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Chapter 2 : Red Rubber Ball
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There's a lesson to be learned from this
And I learned it very well
Now I know you're not the only starfish in the sea
And I think, it's gonna be all right
Molly led Thaddeus to Slughorn’s office. The Potions master was a jovial, rotund old fellow, with a bushy moustache that seemed to have a life of its own, and an extremely cushy office. Molly wasn’t one of the Slug Club, but Thaddeus was, and she knew Slughorn would be able to mix up an antidote in no time at all. And he was much less likely to lecture her than was Madame Luscinia in the infirmary.
She wished she didn’t have to do this, but her conscience and her Gryffindor sense of honour were kicking her, telling her she’d been wrong to put a love potion on Thad (and Arthur, though that had been accidental), that it was wrong to bewitch someone into loving you. It wasn’t real love anyway, but she’d romantically wanted to believe it would turn into real love.
Besides, Flitwick was sure to check up on the boys and make sure they’d had an antidote.
She knocked on the door and heard a cheerful bellow of “Come in!”
Opening the door cautiously, Thaddeus still clinging to her hand and smiling bemusedly at her, she led the way into the office and smiled at Professor Slughorn with embarrassment.
“Good afternoon, Miss Prewett, Mr. Peabody!” Slughorn smiled at them, brushing sugar off his hands. A bowl of crystallized pineapple sat next to his overstuffed velvet armchair. “To what do I owe the pleasure of your company?”
“Well, Professor,” Molly began hesitantly. “I need, erm, two antidotes for a love potion.” She glanced at Thaddeus, regretting that she had to give it to him but knowing she couldn’t go through with her plan. He wasn’t Thaddeus when he was bewitched like this. He smiled at her with glazed eyes and her resolve strengthened. This had been a mistake.
“Oho!” Slughorn chuckled. “You’ve been a busy young lady. Two antidotes?”
“Yes, sir. For Thaddeus, and, erm, Arthur Weasley. It was an accident, sir.”
“An accidental love potion?” Slughorn looked vastly amused.
Molly could feel her face turning pink. “Well, I didn’t mean to give it to both of them.”
“I see…” Slughorn rummaged in one of his large carpetbags and began pulling out ingredients and two glass phials. “Let’s see what we can do, then, shall we?”
Slughorn prepared the antidote while Thaddeus made sheep eyes at Molly, and she stood there blushing and staring at her feet, wishing she could start the day over again and simply flush the love potion down the toilet. It had turned out so embarrassing.
“Here you are, then, my lad,” Slughorn announced, holding up one of the phials to Thaddeus, who took it, looking confused. “And one for Mr. Weasley as well.” He handed the second phial to Molly.
“Go on, Thaddeus,” Molly said sadly. He took the phial from Slughorn and downed it in one go. Slughorn chuckled again as Thaddeus seemed to sag.
“How do you feel, Mr. Peabody?” Slughorn asked kindly. “Care for a bit of oak-matured mead? For a pick-me-up? I have a bottle somewhere; I can open it for us.”
Thaddeus looked confused. “N-no thank you, sir.”
“I’m sorry, Thaddeus,” Molly blurted out. He glanced at her, his eyes wide but clear now. He looked shocked, and slightly horrified, as he stared at Molly and then at Slughorn.
“You two run along now,” Slughorn shooed them cheerfully out of his office, settling himself back into his velvet armchair and picking up his pipe and newspaper.
They stopped outside Slughorn’s office and stared at each other. Thaddeus’s bookbag fell from his hands. He didn’t seem to notice it.
“I’m sorry,” Molly said again.
Thaddeus still looked a little stunned. “You gave me love potion?”
She nodded. “In the butterbeer.”
“Oh.” Thaddeus picked up his bag again and walked a few feet down the corridor, with Molly beside him, her face feeling hot. He stopped suddenly and she nearly collided with him.
“I gave that butterbeer to Arthur! I duplicated it for him! I nearly gave it to Roddy!” His voice was rising with each word.
“Yes, I have the antidote for Arthur too.” She showed him the phial, still clutched in her hand, then added in a rush, “I’m sorry about all this, I was stupid, I didn’t think about how it would turn out or how you would feel about it, and I never thought you’d give the potion to anyone else. I’m sorry, Thaddeus.”
He was staring down at the stones at their feet. “A love potion…”
“Yes. It was terrible of me.” She glanced down at her feet, dejected.
Thaddeus looked up at her then. “Why on earth would you want to use a love potion on me?”
“Well, I’ve, erm, fancied you for a long time now, and I hoped… I’m so sorry, Thaddeus, I just… just wanted you to fancy me too!” Molly gazed up at him beseechingly, her cheeks reddening in embarrassment, but Thaddeus’s eyes were sliding away from hers and he looked embarrassed and uncomfortable.
“I’m sorry, Molly, but I fancy Cressida. You’re a very nice girl though,” he added hurriedly. “Love potion notwithstanding.”
“Cressida Titherington, in Ravenclaw?” Molly’s face fell. Her heart felt as if it had dropped into her stomach and turned to lead. Cressida was a nice girl. She took Ancient Runes. That must be partly why he hung around the Ancient Runes classroom, even though he didn’t take that class. Cressida was in Defence Against the Dark Arts with Molly, and Molly had always thought she was a nice girl. She would be good with Thaddeus.
Thaddeus grinned sheepishly. “Yeah, I’ve been wanting to ask her out since last year.”
“Oh. Oh, I see.” Molly bit her lip thoughtfully. “Well, you should do that. Don’t be bashful, I’m sure she’ll say yes.” At least he could be happy, if he didn’t fancy her. He was such a nice boy. He didn’t even seem angry about the love potion fiasco. And Cressida was a sweet girl. They would make a dear little couple.
He seemed to cheer up. “D’you think so? Thanks, Molly. You’re a good sport.”
Her heart sank a little more. “Yes, well... I really am sorry about the love potion.”
“Quite all right, there. All forgotten.” He held out a hand to her, and she shook it, feeling slightly cheered. He turned to go, and then paused. “Arthur Weasley, you know…”
“Yes, I’m going to go give him his antidote now,” Molly sighed, holding up the small phial. “I hope he isn’t angry with me.”
“I don’t think he will be. Arthur’s not like that.” Thaddeus seemed to struggle for a moment on what to say next, then he said quietly, “He fancied you before you ever gave him that potion.” He hoisted his bookbag onto his shoulder. “Bye, Molly.”
She waved to him, distracted now. She propped a hand on her hip and chewed a fingernail as Thaddeus disappeared down the corridor, watching him without really seeing him. Bewitched by a love potion, already fancying her, and he had still stepped aside when she said she fancied Thaddeus?
She found Arthur in the Gryffindor common room, in a chair by the window, staring out at the afternoon sky.
“Hello, Arthur,” she said timidly.
He looked over at her and seemed to perk up, smiling widely. “Molly!” His smile drooped then, and he glanced over her shoulder. “Where’s Thad?”
She looked at him closely. His eyes were glazed, like Thaddeus’s had been. Her heart sank a little, and she smiled at him guiltily. “I have something for you, Arthur.”
She was even more ashamed of herself when he sat up eagerly, grinning widely at her. “For me? You do?”
“Here you are. Drink up.” She handed him the glass phial and waited for it to have its effect.
Sure enough, moments after downing the antidote, Arthur sagged into the chair just as Thaddeus had done, looking slightly horrified. He glanced up at her and his ears reddened. “Oh dear. Erm, Molly, I…”
She sat on the arm of his chair. “It was my fault, Arthur, but please don’t be angry. I gave Thaddeus a love potion and you got some as well, by mistake. I’m so sorry. I hope you can forgive me.”
“A love potion. For Thad. Yes, of course.” He ducked his head, embarrassed. His ears were still bright red. “I’m sorry I made a fool of myself in Charms, I hope I didn’t embarrass you.”
“It’s not your fault, Arthur,” Molly sighed. “It’s mine, and I’m sorry. I hope you can forgive me.”
“Yes. Yes, of course I do.” He put a hand over his eyes. “Good Lord, a love potion.”
Molly wasn’t sure what he was thinking. “Please don’t be angry, Arthur, I’m so sorry for what I’ve done today.”
“Angry?” he said distractedly. “No, not at all. Not angry. I, erm, need a moment alone, Molly.”
She stood and started to walk away, hesitated briefly then put her hand on his shoulder. “I’m sorry, Arthur.”
“It’s quite all right, Molly.” He was staring at his feet, one hand on his temple.
Molly stared at him for a moment, taking in his profile in the late afternoon sun. He was rather handsome, really. She’d never really noticed him before. And he’d let her go, for her happiness, despite being bewitched by the love potion, when she said she fancied Thaddeus, who said Arthur fancied her. He just… let her go.
It was so noble. So romantic.
He looked up quite suddenly and she started, blushing that he’d caught her staring. “It’s all right, Molly,” he said quietly, his eyes searching hers. “You don’t need to worry about me.”
“Oh. Yes. All right, then.” She backed away and then fled up the staircase to the girls’ dormitory, where she flung herself onto her bed and buried her burning face in her pillow. It had been a humiliating day. Her plan, her stupid, silly plan, had backfired on her badly. She could only be grateful that Flitwick had broken things up before they got out of hand. Their wands had been drawn! They were friends and had drawn wands on each other. Over her. The entire afternoon had been so surreal. And now she had to serve a detention as well.
She really, really hoped her younger brothers would never find out about this. Thank goodness Flitwick had stopped the boys before anyone else saw them. Word would have gotten all around the school, she would have been humiliated in front of the entire school, and her brothers would never let her live it down.
She had been lying on her bed for about half an hour when Professor McGonagall came up, and she explained the entire sorry episode to her. McGonagall was more understanding than Molly had expected, but she still lost Gryffindor twenty points and McGonagall was going to write to her parents, in addition to the detention with Flitwick. She could only hope against hope that her mother wouldn’t send a Howler when she found out.
Molly stayed in her dormitory the rest of the evening. Hattie tried to get her to come down to the Great Hall for dinner that evening, but she couldn’t bring herself to move, to come down and face the two boys again. Hattie and Petula Cordingley brought her some food for dinner, and she ate sitting in the middle of her bed, thinking hard about Arthur Weasley and trying even harder not to think about her humiliating love potion debacle.
They had been together at Hogwarts for five years, and she didn’t really know him well. She knew he was a nice boy who always helped out the other students, even when they weren’t really friends with him. Everyone knew him and liked him, but he wasn’t really a popular student. He even managed to get along with a few Slytherins, like that Edwina Crouch, although Edwina was much nicer than most of the Slytherins.
He was tall, taller than Thaddeus. His hair was a flaming red and his eyes a gentle blue behind his glasses. He was rather handsome. He was thoughtful and friendly, and he liked to make things run smoothly for everyone whenever he could lend a hand. That was all she really knew about him. He was such a nice boy, he so often got overlooked. She had never really gotten to know him. They had several classes together this year still, and she resolved to get to know him better, to fill in the details on Arthur Weasley.
Just to see.
Arthur Weasley. Hmm…
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