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Chapter 14 : How Sweet It Is
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You brightened up for me all of my days
With a love so sweet in so many ways
I want to stop and thank you baby
How sweet it is to be loved by you
The first week of November was quite possibly the best one Arthur had ever spent at Hogwarts, or anywhere else for that matter. He’d managed to make her birthday perfect, mostly through Hattie’s help (he reminded himself to get Hattie something really good for Christmas), and now not only was he dating Molly Prewett, she was snogging him at every possible opportunity. At the beginning of the year, he’d never thought it might be possible to have Molly for a girlfriend, and now he felt he had everything he’d ever wanted, and it was better than he could have possibly imagined.
The blue thing she’d been knitting had been for him. A gift for him, for no reason other than that she fancied him and he was her boyfriend. She knitted for herself and her friends, and now he had a scarf hand-knitted by Molly. He had worn it every day since she’d given it to him. Dunstan and Reid had been teasing him mercilessly for that, but he found he didn’t much care now that he could refer to her as ‘Molly Prewett, my girlfriend,’ which he did at every opportunity.
His new happiness was impervious to any teasing and even to receiving a grade that just scraped by passing on his latest History of Magic essay, which he’d written while daydreaming about Molly, so he wasn’t entirely surprised by that. His motivation for his schoolwork had dimmed in the brilliant light of his relationship with Molly. He couldn’t focus on anything but her; how could he concentrate on essays and studying when he had Molly Prewett in his arms, returning his kisses and watching him with admiration in those bright brown eyes?
He’d been on the verge of declaring his undying love for her on her birthday. She’d looked so beautiful in the moonlight up on the Astronomy Tower, and then she’d kissed him like that, and he’d drawn a breath to tell her, but he couldn’t quite do it. It was too soon, he thought, and he didn’t want to scare her off.
He adjusted the scarf around his neck and went into class, where Molly and Hattie were already sitting at their usual table, and he bent to kiss her on the forehead quickly while Flitwick’s back was turned, then sat at his usual table behind her. Molly kept glancing over her shoulder at him and smiling throughout the lesson.
When class was over, he and Molly walked hand in hand down the corridor next to Hattie, Dunstan, and Petula. Reid and Cecilia had already split off for their other classes, Cecilia throwing dirty looks at Reid as she went, and Siobhan had gone for destinations unknown that probably included Roddy Feltham and a dark broom cupboard.
Molly said she needed to go to the library, and Arthur, thinking of his near miss in History of Magic, admitted he needed to as well. Hattie gave them a suspicious look but continued to the common room with Dunstan and Petula. Dunstan was eyeing Petula in a way that made Arthur grin, making a mental note to tease his friend later.
Arthur had been half-expecting Molly to lead him off to a broom cupboard as well, but she went to the library after all. When they’d found a table in the back corner of the library and settled into their chairs, he gave her a hopeful smile. It was a nice secluded corner.
His smile slowly faded when Molly turned to him with a determined expression that clearly did not portend any snogging.
“Arthur, I want to talk to you,” she said in a firm voice.
Immediately apprehension filled him. “What about?” he asked cautiously.
“Well, if it weren’t for the girls letting me borrow their notes, I’m not sure I’d have passed my last Arithmancy quiz, and I had to copy some of Hattie’s Transfiguration homework yesterday.” Her brows were knitted forlornly, and she looked truly upset over copying Hattie’s work.
“I only barely passed my last History of Magic essay,” Arthur admitted.
“There, you see? We both need to study more.” She took a deep breath, as if steeling herself to say something unpleasant. “I think we should stop going out on school nights. We need to study or we’re both going to fail this year.”
Arthur was disappointed, but he had to acknowledge that she had a point. “You’re right, Molly. Are you sure you want to stop though? We won’t have as much time together.” He was half prepared to quit studying altogether if it meant he could spend more time with her.
“Of course I don’t want to,” she said at once. “But we need to pass our N.E.W.T.s, don’t we? We can study together, then we’ll still see each other in the evenings. And we can go out together on weekends.”
“Right.” Arthur was a little disheartened. “But what about…”
Molly turned a little pink. “There’ll still be time for some snogging,” she whispered. “I’m not giving that up.”
“Oh good,” Arthur said, relieved.
“We just need to find a way to be together and stop neglecting our studies, that’s all. We shouldn’t go out on school nights so much. But I still want to be with you, of course. It’s just that, we’re in school to get our N.E.W.T.s, not to snog.” She gave him a pleading look, and he leaned in to kiss her gently.
“Whatever you think is best, Molly.”
She smiled, looking pleased at his acquiescence, and started pulling her books out from her bag, and he couldn’t help but feel a stab of loss at the thought that they would have fewer late-night wanderings in the castle together. But she was quite right, they did need to study. Still, she’d said she wasn’t going to give up snogging him, and that was definitely something. He was secretly hoping they would have the rest of their lives to snog, but first things first… And studying with her was quite nice. He’d just have to find more creative ways to use their time while still prioritising his studies. He pulled out his Charms textbook and settled down into his chair.
They were getting better at studying together; he was able to focus more easily now and actually felt Molly’s presence at his side was starting to be a comfort rather than a distraction. They worked well together too when they were studying the same subject, particularly in a group study when they couldn’t be distracted by each other – he found their discussions on theory particularly enlightening. Molly was very smart, and he liked to think he held his own. She was quite opinionated too. She was so cute when she was telling him how very wrong he was about cross-species switches.
As they discussed the latest chapter in their Charms textbook, an idea started to blossom in the back of Arthur’s mind. If they got their homework done first … maybe she would be willing to cut into her sleep a bit for some snogging before bed. He wondered if he could wear her down about this. Maybe she’d miss sneaking around the castle with him at nights. They could go out after their homework was done, but it would be quite late at night, they’d have to avoid the prefect patrols and Mr. Pringle… It sounded fun, actually. He dragged his full attention back to Molly and their discussion, and determined to work out a plan later.
Arthur was headed for History of Magic the next day when he heard someone calling his name from behind him.
He turned and was surprised to see Cecilia and Siobhan beckoning him from behind a tapestry of a young woman petting a unicorn. He walked over to them and had just opened his mouth to say hello when Cecilia seized him by the front of his robes and yanked him into the secret passageway.
“What’s going on?” he asked nervously when Cecilia let go, smoothing his scarf and robes down.
“We need to talk to you where Molly won’t see or hear,” Cecilia said.
“What are you getting Molly for Christmas?” Siobhan asked, going straight to the point as usual.
He was a little taken aback, and looked at her guiltily. “Christmas? Erm…”
“Yes, Christmas,” Cecilia said. “After that birthday party, you’d better think of something good. It’s going to be hard to top that.”
That statement sent Arthur into a panic. Had he set the bar too high for himself? Hattie had helped him come up with the birthday plans; he’d never have managed it alone. Now he had to start planning for Christmas as well? It was barely even November, really! He was still basking in the success of last week’s birthday party and gift. He hadn’t even thought about Christmas yet.
Apparently Cecilia and Siobhan could tell what he was thinking, because Siobhan rolled her eyes and Cecilia heaved a big sigh, shaking her head.
“Since you clearly don’t have anything planned…” Siobhan began, and then looked to Cecilia.
Cecilia jumped in immediately. “You know Molly loves Celestina Warbeck, right?”
“Yes,” Arthur responded, looking at the two girls in confusion. “I don’t understand why, though.” Celestina wasn’t exactly his cup of tea, but Molly perked up whenever she heard the Singing Sorceress, so he went along with it. She put up with his Muggle fascination even though he could tell she didn’t share it, so he could put up with a little Celestina Warbeck, even though he thought her songs were terrible.
Siobhan grinned sympathetically at that, and Cecilia said, “Yes, well, there’s a Celestina concert in Hogsmeade just before Christmas break. Molly’s never seen her in concert before, she’s been talking about going to one for ages.”
“That would be perfect,” Arthur exclaimed. “Is it on a Hogsmeade weekend?”
Cecilia and Siobhan exchanged a look. “Well, no,” Siobhan said. “That’s the problem. It’s on the first Thursday in December. But you know everyone in school, and we heard there are secret passages out of the castle and into Hogsmeade, so you could ask your friends-”
“I’m sure that great prat Reid knows how to sneak out of the castle,” Cecilia said scathingly.
Siobhan rolled her eyes at her friend but continued without acknowledging Cecilia’s remark. “And surely one of them can tell you how to get out of the castle.”
Arthur glanced over his shoulder unnecessarily, as they were quite alone behind the tapestry. He was a little surprised that Hattie hadn’t told them about his discussion with her over Molly’s birthday gift, or they’d already know that he could sneak into Hogsmeade. “Actually, I already know a couple of passages out of the castle.”
Cecilia looked mildly impressed. “Well, there you have it, then,” she said.
Arthur stared off over her shoulder, thinking hard. If he got tickets by owl, and then asked Molly out for that evening…. He’d have to convince her to go out on a school night, right after she’d declared they had to stop doing just that. Not just out for a snog either, but actually out of the castle. They could sneak out using the passage behind the fourth-floor mirror, and back into Hogwarts the same way. She loved Celestina…. He could stand an evening of the Singing Sorceress for his Miss Prewett. Molly would undoubtedly be in a snogging kind of mood after the concert, and that would give him something to look forward to, to get him through the evening.
Cecilia let out a sigh. Clearly she thought he was taking too long to agree to their plan. “Well, Arthur?” she asked impatiently.
“Yeah, I’ll do it. If she won’t agree to go out with me on a school night, I’ll need your help,” he warned them. “She says we both need to study more and stop going out on school nights.”
“Don’t worry,” Siobhan assured him. “If you get the tickets, we’ll make sure Molly agrees to an evening stroll with you, and you can surprise her with the concert. You’d better get the tickets quickly, though, or it will be sold out.”
“We’ll make sure it goes off without a hitch,” Cecilia added. “We’ve already decided to do her homework for her that night.”
“Why aren’t you two taking her?” Arthur asked.
“Because Cecilia refuses to sneak out of the castle on a school night,” Siobhan said, rolling her eyes.
“I’m a prefect, Siobhan. And she,” Cecilia jabbed her thumb at Siobhan as she turned back to Arthur, “can’t stand Celestina.”
“Well, she is awful. So we thought you should take Molly,” Siobhan finished. “She’ll be happier for you to take her than if we did anyway.”
Arthur smiled at them. “You’re good friends to her. Are you sure you don’t want me to set you up with Reid, Cecilia?”
She gave him a look of death, and Siobhan laughed. “She’d sooner date the giant squid.”
Arthur went straight to the owlery to send off for the Celestina tickets after his last class. It was going to cost most of his meagre savings, but that didn’t really matter when he compared it to the picture in his mind of the look on Molly’s face when he told her he was taking her to see Celestina Warbeck.
The next week flew by without him getting a chance to speak to Molly about adjusting their schedules for some extra time in the evening. It did not help that the Hogwarts staff was loading the sixth-years down with heavy loads of homework. Petula had a minor breakdown in the common room one day in the middle of the month, bursting into tears and collapsing into Hattie’s shoulder as she flung her Charms textbook into the fire. Cecilia barely managed to rescue it with a wave of her wand just before it went into the coals, and Hattie had to break into her emergency stash of chocolate before Petula would calm down again.
Arthur received the tickets by owl one morning at breakfast shortly after Petula’s meltdown, and had to stuff the envelope into his pocket quickly while Molly was opening her weekly letter from her parents. Cecilia appeared to have realized what Arthur’s mail was and asked Molly how her mum was to distract her. Molly turned to speak to Cecilia and Arthur shooed his owl away and went back to eating as if nothing had happened. Dunstan was staring at him strangely.
“Lingerie?” he mouthed from across the table with a sudden grin.
Arthur scowled at him and mouthed back, “Shut it.”
Cosmo, sitting next to Dunstan, let out a loud snort, and ducked his head over his plate when Molly glanced at him.
Arthur walked Molly to class after breakfast and had to run, clutching his scarf to keep it from flying off, in order to get to his own class on time. Once he was safely in History of Magic, he pulled the tickets out of his pocket and examined them. The doors opened at half past eight, and the concert started at nine. He put the tickets in his bag thoughtfully, frowning a bit. Perhaps they could sneak out a bit early and have a late tea before the concert.
Reid, sitting next to him, had noticed the tickets. “What are those?” he whispered.
“Concert tickets,” Arthur muttered. He didn’t particularly want to admit which concert, but Reid did not let that answer go.
“Concert tickets to which concert?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Celestina Warbeck,” Arthur said under his breath, half-hoping Reid would not hear.
Reid let out a loud guffaw. Most of the class looked over at them, and Arthur slumped down a little, feeling his ears turn red. Reid grinned unabashedly. When everyone had looked away again and Professor Binns’ droning monotone had resumed, Reid nudged Arthur.
“Why are you going to see Celestina bloody Warbeck?” he said out of the corner of his mouth, sounding highly amused.
“Molly loves her,” Arthur said in a low voice.
Reid looked pained and shook his head. “You are completely gone on her, mate.”
“I know,” Arthur said, but he couldn’t help grinning a little.
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