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Chapter 18 : Daydream Believer
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Now you know how happy I can be.
Oh, and our good times start and end
Without dollar one to spend.
But how much, baby, do we really need.
Arthur headed for the Charms corridor with a jaunty stride, smiling cheerfully at everyone he passed. A few people gave him a look that clearly said they thought he might have lost his mind, but most smiled back. He saw a flash of red hair ahead and increased his pace. He couldn’t wait to see Molly.
Telling her he loved her after the concert last week had been a bit of a mess, but it had turned out all right. He hadn’t meant to say it like that; he’d planned to say it right after the concert in the moonlit walk back to the secret passageway into the school. But then the concert had gone downhill and he’d decided not to do it after all, and then it just sort of slipped out, and the shocked look on her face had scared him. Then she’d smiled and said she loved him too, and he felt he could have flown back to the common room.
Molly Prewett loved him! She really did.
The crowd thinned a bit as he reached the Charms classroom, and he saw the little cluster of Gryffindor girls standing outside the door. Siobhan saw him first, and she gave Molly a little nudge. Molly turned and gave Arthur the most brilliant smile he’d ever seen, her cheeks pink and her eyes bright. She loved him. His smile was extremely soppy, he was sure, but he couldn’t help it. She was beautiful. And she loved him.
He was fully aware that they were ridiculously corny, and Siobhan was rolling her eyes at them, but he didn’t care at the moment, because Molly loved him.
As he attempted to pay attention to Professor Flitwick later while finding it quite difficult to tear his eyes away from Molly, it occurred to him that he should be hoping the novelty of her love wore off just a bit so he could focus again. He really couldn’t afford any more failing grades than he’d already gotten, or Molly’s brothers wouldn’t be the only ones getting a Howler twice a month. Not only would his mother tell him off for a failing grade, Molly probably would too.
Arthur had just settled himself into his seat in History of Magic a few days later and was pulling his notes out of his bookbag when Reid sat down next to him, slammed his own bookbag onto the desk, and announced loudly, “Well, I’ve done it.”
“Set fire to Cecilia again?” Arthur asked absently, still digging in his bag. His notes seemed to have disappeared at some point between breakfast and sneaking over to the Potions dungeon to see Molly.
Reid gave him a dirty look. “No. I’ve asked out Gemma Folwell.”
“Oh.” Arthur looked up in surprise. “Did you? Well, good for you, mate. She’s very sweet.”
“Yes, she is sweet,” Reid said, not looking particularly pleased by this.
Arthur eyed Reid askance. “You all right there, Reid?”
“I’m fine.” Reid’s face transformed into a cocky smile. “Did you hear the seventh-years are having a party as a Christmas send-off? This Friday.”
“So we’ll all be half-asleep travelling home for Christmas after staying up late the last day of classes,” Arthur remarked with a grin. “Sounds like fun.”
“So, you think you’ll be there?” Reid was grinning at him in a funny way now, and Arthur gave him a wary look.
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
“You think Molly will let you go? It’s not on the schedule. You’re probably supposed to be studying,” Reid chortled. He clearly thought he was very funny. “You need to get a handle on your girl, mate.”
Arthur frowned at him. “Don’t talk about Molly like that.”
Professor Binns had begun his usual droning monologue though, and Reid continued to snicker through most of class. Arthur took notes irritably, occasionally glancing over at Reid with a dark frown. Get a handle on his woman? Ha. As if he would take advice about women from Reid, the firecracker king.
Still, he couldn’t get that remark out of his head for the rest of class. When Binns finally dismissed them, he turned to Reid to ask what exactly he’d meant by that, but Reid was hurriedly shoving his books into his bag.
“Must run,” he said, grinning at Arthur’s obvious consternation. “Divination next, you know.”
He was out the door before Arthur could do more than frown at him, and Arthur mentally cursed Reid’s eleven-N.E.W.T. schedule. Arthur headed for Gryffindor tower then and made an attempt at doing a little studying before his next class. He pulled out his notes and his copy of Advanced Defensive Spells and arranged himself in front of the fireplace to study, but he was still thinking about what Reid had said. He was staring into the fire broodingly when a familiar voice broke through his reverie.
“Hi Arthur.” Petula sat down on the sofa next to the chair in which he’d ensconced himself. “What are you studying?” She peered down at his notes. “Oh, Defence. I hate that class.”
“Hi Petula. All right, there?”
“Fine, thanks.” She gave him an appraising glance. “Your friend Dunstan asked me out,” she said quite suddenly.
“He did?” Arthur grinned. “And what did you say?”
“I told him I’d think about it,” Petula said blithely.
Arthur chuckled. That must have gone over well with Dunstan. “Are you coming to the party on Friday?”
“What party?” Petula frowned. “Nobody ever tells me anything.”
“The seventh-years are having a party on Friday here in the common room, to celebrate the holiday.”
“Oh. I suppose I will. Are you and Molly going?”
“I haven’t had a chance to ask her. I think she’ll want to, though.”
Petula shrugged. “If you’re going, she probably will too. I’m sure Siobhan and Cecilia will be there.”
“Are you talking about me?” Siobhan dropped into the sofa next to Petula. “Hello, Arthur.”
“There’s a party on Friday,” Petula told her.
“What, here?” Siobhan asked. “Who’s throwing it?”
“You mean Walter Campbell and Dorian Raleigh are throwing it,” Siobhan said dryly. “And the others are just along for the ride.”
Arthur opened his mouth to interject, but Petula was quicker – and louder – than he was.
“Claudia helped throw last year’s Christmas good-bye party,” she said in a triumphant voice, as if she were trumping Siobhan’s argument handily.
“Claudia Patterson -” Siobhan began loudly, then glanced around to make sure Claudia wasn’t within earshot before continuing in a slightly quieter voice, “Claudia Patterson would not know how to throw a good party if detailed instructions jumped up and slapped her across the face. You only like her because her mother’s some kind of bloody Muggle aristocrat.”
Arthur tried to interrupt them again, but they seemed to have forgotten he was there.
“I do not. Her mother is a viscountess. And watch your language, too. Why do you care who’s throwing the party, anyway?” Petula demanded crossly, and continued without waiting for an answer, “Are you bringing Addae?”
“No, why should I? It’s a Gryffindor party, isn’t it? Arthur, are you going?”
He glanced at both of them for a moment to see if they were going to let him speak now. When they both looked at him expectantly, he said, “I probably will.”
“Molly will let you go, it’s the last day before the holiday, there won’t be any homework on the schedule,” Siobhan said with a sly grin. Petula giggled.
Arthur scowled at them. This was a little too close to what his friends had been teasing him about, and hearing Molly’s friends tease him about the very same thing made him bristle immediately. “I don’t need Molly’s permission to go to a party in my own common room.”
Petula gave a little sniff. “You needn’t be so defensive, Arthur. Siobhan was only joking.”
Arthur grabbed his things off the table and began stuffing them into his bookbag. “I’d better go. I need to get to class soon.”
Siobhan was still grinning as he left, and Petula looked a little affronted that he had taken offence at her friend’s joke.
Arthur stomped down the staircase to the Defence Against the Dark Arts corridor, where he saw Molly and Cecilia already waiting. Molly turned to him with a smile, and for the first time that he could remember, he was not particularly happy to see her. He tried to muster up a smile nevertheless; however, this did not fool her.
Molly frowned at him. “What’s wrong?”
“Where’s Petula? She’d better not be skiving off.” Cecilia craned her neck to look around Arthur.
“She was just in the common room,” Arthur said, a little grumpily. “She didn’t mention whether she was coming to class or not.”
“Did you argue with Petula?” Molly asked.
“No,” he said shortly.
“Then what’s wrong?”
“It’s nothing. I’m all right.” He did not know how to discuss this with her, and was not sure he wanted to hear her take on the teasing anyway. He thought he knew how she would react, but he rather thought that her jumping to his defence and yelling at all their friends would just make things worse. He gave her a half-hearted smile and went into the classroom. He could feel Molly’s eyes on his back as he set his bookbag down, and she came to the desk next to him, looking at him with concern.
He could hear Cecilia and Petula arguing as they found a desk as well, Petula having apparently decided not to skive off. This did not, of course, prevent Cecilia from lecturing her against skiving off. Dunstan was already in the room, and Reid managed to make it just in time. He was often nearly late to class, but the professors never seemed to think anything of it. Arthur glowered at his friend a little, and Reid didn’t seem to notice, as he was watching Cecilia while attempting to be surreptitious about it.
Professor Ampara was waiting at the front of the room, leaning against the edge of her desk and tapping her wand lightly against her leg as the students shuffled in. Molly sat down next to Arthur, but before she could press him again, Professor Ampara had stood up straight and cleared her throat.
“Practical today,” she said cheerfully. “Put away your books, let’s have a little practice with our defensive technique. Partner up, everyone!”
Reid gave Cecilia a hopeful look, but she turned away from him, flipping her hair over her shoulder as she turned to Dunstan.
“Want to partner up, Dunstan?” she asked sweetly.
Reid scowled at them and turned away, looking over at Molly and Arthur. “Are you partnering up, then?”
Molly looked at Arthur uncertainly, and he shook his head uncomfortably. Even when he was a little irritated with her, he could not bear to try any jinxes or hexes on her.
“I can’t hex you, Molly,” he said, and though she still looked a little unsure, she nodded and turned to ask Petula to partner her.
“I suppose it’s you and me then,” Reid said heartily. He shot another glance at Cecilia, who was ignoring him pointedly. Arthur wondered if she’d heard yet that Reid was going out with Gemma. Not that it had stopped him chasing Cecilia, of course…
Molly and Petula were conferring in whispers behind him, and he turned to see Petula shrugging and rolling her eyes. Molly looked up at Arthur with concern on her face, but Professor Ampara interrupted whatever she might have said by Vanishing the desks so the room was clear and calling out instructions.
“So,” said Reid casually as they paired up across from each other with wands drawn, “has Cecilia mentioned anything about me and Gemma?”
Arthur scowled at his friend, suddenly feeling quite angry with him. He’d managed to wreck most of Arthur’s day with his teasing in History of Magic, winding Arthur up so that Siobhan’s teasing had affected him more than it would have otherwise, but as usual Reid did not care about that. He was only concerned about himself. Arthur flicked his wand at Reid and hit him with a trip jinx.
Reid was apparently not expecting anything and was knocked over, landing on his back.
“The world does not revolve around you, Reid,” Arthur snapped.
Reid scowled at him. He did not bother to rise before responding.
Arthur bent double in uncontrollable laughter. He managed to stop the jinx, using a nonverbal spell for only perhaps the third time that year, and aimed a Jelly-Legs Jinx at Reid, which he deflected, on his feet now, and retaliated with a Leg-Locker Curse. Arthur ducked under it, and caught a glimpse of Molly and Petula’s worried faces as he aimed at Reid again.
Reid did not dodge in time, and Cecilia burst into laughter as his legs began a fast jig.
“Nonverbally, remember,” Professor Ampara called out, looking a little concerned that the boys were actually duelling and not just practising their spellwork.
“Finite Incantatem,” came a soft voice from behind Arthur, and Reid’s legs stopped their frantic dancing. Arthur turned to see Molly giving him a reproving look. “He’s your friend, Arthur,” she said quietly.
Arthur turned to Reid, still annoyed but starting to feel guilty for taking it out on his friend. He lowered his wand and held out a hand to Reid.
“Sorry about that,” he said.
Reid shook his hand, but he still looked a little disgruntled. “Trying to get back at me, were you?”
“Maybe a little,” Arthur admitted. He resolved to just ignore any more teasing that came his way about Molly. After all, they were in love, and he was not going to let his friends ruin it now that Molly Prewett was finally in love with him. He took a deep breath. And besides, as he’d pointed out before the concert, he was being snogged every day and they were not. Except Reid, possibly, but even so, Reid was not snogging the girl he actually wanted.
Reid eyed Arthur askance. “Looks like you need to get a handle on yourself as well.”
Evidently he had bruised Reid’s ego. “Sorry, Reid.”
Cecilia was still laughing as she deflected Dunstan’s half-hearted jinx.
Cosmo poked his head into the sixth-year boys’ dormitory. “I heard Reid and Arthur duelled today in Defence Against the Dark Arts.”
Reid scowled at him. “It was an unprovoked attack.”
Arthur frowned at Reid somewhat uncomfortably. It had been an attack, but calling it that made Arthur rather uneasy, although one could argue that Reid had in fact provoked him. Arthur made an attempt at minimising the incident. “We were practising defensive spellwork and got a little carried away, that’s all. I said I was sorry.”
“Senseless, baseless and dastardly attack.”
“Oh, shut up, Reid,” Cosmo said as he ambled over to plop down on Dunstan’s bed. “Arthur said he was sorry.”
“Like hell,” Reid grumbled. “He was wound up about Molly and took it out on me.”
“You wound me up,” Arthur pointed out, nettled. “You were being a git.”
“Reid’s always a git,” Cosmo said. Reid made a rude hand gesture at him.
“What did you say?” Dunstan asked, looking up at Reid from the star charts he’d been studying.
“I only said he needed to get a handle on his girl, that’s all,” Reid said as if it were the most innocuous comment he could have made and Arthur had been completely unreasonable to be put out by it.
Cosmo quirked an eyebrow at his friends, looking as if he weren’t sure how to respond, and Dunstan shrugged.
“Well, she is a little bossy,” Dunstan said.
“Watch out, he’ll hex you next,” Reid told him.
Arthur gave Reid a dirty look. “You hexed me too.”
“Gratuitous violence against your mate,” Reid retorted. "You started it."
“You’ve just got to learn how to handle a woman,” Dunstan said bracingly to Arthur. “They need a strong male hand to guide them.”
Cosmo stared at Dunstan incredulously. “You don’t have sisters, do you, Dunstan?”
“No, I have four brothers,” Dunstan said. “Why?”
“My sisters would break my kneecaps if I said they needed a strong male hand,” Cosmo said fervently.
“That’s because they do need one,” Dunstan told him. “It’s very simple, really.” Reid was nodding agreement.
Arthur frowned at Dunstan. “Somehow I think Molly would go the kneecap route as well.”
“Why do I always catch the tail end of these conversations?” Roddy’s voice floated up the stairs, and a moment later he entered the dorm and tossed his bookbag onto his bed. He gave Cosmo a strange look. “What are you doing in here?”
“He followed us home,” Reid said. “I think we might keep him, if we put a collar on him and make sure he doesn’t chew on anything.”
Cosmo made a rude hand gesture at Reid, who grinned at him.
“All right, what’s going on now?” Roddy asked, digging in his trunk for something. “What was that about Molly’s knees? Are we allowed to discuss how nice her legs are?”
“Don’t talk about Molly’s legs,” Arthur told him firmly.
“We were trying to tell Arthur that he needed to get a handle on his woman before she has him wearing an apron and waiting on her hand and foot,” Dunstan said cheerfully.
Arthur scowled and held firmly to his resolve to ignore this sort of teasing, but he had to resist the strong urge to hex Dunstan.
Roddy was so deep into his trunk now that it might have had a trick bottom leading to an entire other dormitory full of Roddy’s things. His voice sounded muffled as he said, “What did I tell you about taking advice on women from these idiots?”
“Believe me, I’m not,” said Arthur.
Roddy emerged from his trunk, with a small rat squirming in his hand. “Does this belong to any of you?”
Everyone shook their heads. Roddy shrugged and set the rat down on the floor next to his trunk, where it immediately made a beeline for the door. Roddy bent over into the trunk again.
“Look, you can deny it all you want, but Dunstan’s got a point, women do need a man to guide them,” Reid said.
“I’d like to see you say that to Cecilia,” Cosmo told him.
Reid’s face took on a hunted expression. “No, I like all my parts where they are, thank you.”
Roddy stood up again, holding a scuffed old beater’s bat in one hand and wearing an incredulous expression. “Women need a what?”
“A strong male hand to guide them,” Dunstan said confidently. “My dad says so all the time.” Reid nodded agreement while Cosmo rolled his eyes.
Roddy stared at him for a moment, then started to laugh. He pointed the bat at Dunstan and then at Reid, laughing his head off and shaking his head at them, then left the dormitory, still hooting with laughter as he went down the stairs.
Cosmo turned to Arthur as if nothing had happened. “Look, this isn’t ‘The Taming of the Shrew’, you don’t need to get a handle on anything. Don’t listen to these idiots. They’re just going to cause you trouble.”
“The taming of the what?” Arthur asked in confusion.
“Taming of the Shrew. Shakespeare.” Cosmo gave him an impatient look as if Arthur were being slow. Arthur stared at him blankly and Cosmo seemed to remember something and rolled his eyes. “Oh, right, you were raised wizard. Shakespeare is a very famous Muggle playwright from the sixteenth century.”
“Really? Shapespeer, you say?” Arthur asked eagerly. “What sort of plays did he write? Why did he want to tame shrews?”
“Now you’ve done it,” Reid said. “Don’t talk about Muggles in front of Arthur. And why does no one think I could give good advice about women?”
“Fireworks,” Arthur and Cosmo said together.
“Ancient history,” Reid said airily. “I’m going to dinner now.”
“Sure, run off like a little swot,” Dunstan said.
“Shut it, you,” Reid retorted. “I’ve got to meet Gemma.”
“Ah. Does Cecilia know about that yet?” Dunstan gave him a knowing smile. Reid shrugged, and Dunstan continued, “That sounds more entertaining than Arthur’s woman problem. I’ll come with you.” He tossed aside his star charts and stood to follow Reid.
“Speaking of women problems,” Arthur said, remembering what Petula had told him, “I hear you’re waiting for Petula to decide whether or not to go out with you?”
To Arthur’s surprise and delight, Dunstan flushed a deep brick-red. “Shut it, Arthur.”
Cosmo let out an evil chuckle. “Does Petula need a strong male hand to get her to go out with you?”
Dunstan gave him an ugly look and went down the stairs. Arthur and Cosmo grinned at each other. Plainly, this was a sore spot for Dunstan, and Arthur found himself hoping Petula would string his friend along long enough for him to get back at Dunstan for his comments about Molly.
As he went down the stairs to dinner, he saw Molly waiting for him on the couch with Siobhan. She looked up at him with a tentative smile and he smiled back, feeling much more content this time to see her.
“Hello, Arthur,” she said.
He dropped a kiss onto the top of her head as he sat down next to her. “Hi there, Molly.”
“Siobhan has something she’d like to say to you,” Molly said primly.
Siobhan rolled her eyes and mumbled, “I’m sorry about what I said earlier, I was only joking.”
Molly looked satisfied and turned to Arthur expectantly, as if she had just solved all his problems, while Siobhan slumped resentfully in the chair next to the fire, glaring at Molly.
Arthur stared at the girls silently for a few moments, looking from one to the other. Yes, he’d been right. She’d only made him feel worse.
“I’m going to dinner,” he said grimly, rising from the sofa and hurrying toward the portrait hole. He heard Molly calling him as he left, but he pretended not to hear.
A/N: Ah, male PMS. Men are so sensitive about their manhood. *evil laugh*
Well, I wanted to apologise for the extended time between updates. But you won't have to wait so long for the next one, because I'm posting chapter 19 as well!
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