Chapter 19 : Ain't No Mountain High Enough
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My love is alive
Way down in my heart
Although we are miles apart
Molly fumed as she stomped along down the corridor toward Gryffindor tower after Defence Against the Dark Arts that Thursday. Arthur had been distant since Tuesday, and she didn’t know what was going on, but she was sure it was Siobhan’s fault. Molly was a little annoyed with Arthur as well for being so testy the past few days, but most of her ire was directed at her friend.
It was one thing for her friends to call her bossy to each other, but it was not acceptable for them to say it to Arthur. Now he was all prickly and upset. She needed to clear things up before they went home for Christmas, in case she didn’t get to see him over the holiday. She didn’t want him stewing over having a bossy girlfriend over Christmas and decide he’d do better with a girl who was meeker.
But he loved her. He didn’t mind that she wasn’t particularly docile when he’d professed his love, so why was it bothering him now?
Petula had said he’d gotten angry when Siobhan made a stupid joke about the stupid homework schedule. Aside from pointing out that he had a bossy girlfriend, she couldn’t imagine what could have upset him about Siobhan’s remark. And she’d made Siobhan apologise, but for some reason that had not improved matters. Well, he knew she was bossy, he’d just have to get past it. Unless he didn’t want to get past it. Maybe he really had decided he ought to go out with someone who was meek and mild and all that rot.
Molly stopped in her tracks at that thought, causing someone behind her to walk right into her.
“Watch it,” the girl snapped.
“Mind your own business,” Molly snapped back angrily without bothering to look at who had collided with her. She propped a hand on her hip and chewed a fingernail, standing in the middle of the corridor.
“Uh-oh,” said a familiar voice behind her. “Mollykins is in a stew.”
“What’s the matter, sister dear?” Fabian added, putting an arm around her. Her little brothers were now the same height as she was, and that was a little annoying.
“Nothing, go away,” Molly said with an irritated sigh.
“Oh, go on, tell us,” Gideon said encouragingly. “We won’t take the mickey about it, honestly.”
“Yes you will. You always do. Go away,” she repeated.
“Is it because Arthur got in a duel the other day?” Fabian asked ingenuously.
Molly stared at her brothers. “You heard about that?”
Gideon shrugged. “Cosmo Graham told us. So is that what you’re upset about?”
“It wasn’t a duel. It was…. I don’t know what it was.” Molly crossed her arms in front of her chest and let out a sigh. “He’s being very tetchy and I don’t know why. Petula said he was upset about something Siobhan said, so I made her apologise, but it just made things worse.”
Her brothers looked at each other and then back at her. Molly felt rather silly then. She had never really confided in her little brothers before, about anything, and rather regretted it now. They weren’t even fourteen yet.
“We don’t know him very well,” Fabian said, “but he never seemed particularly thin-skinned.”
“He’s not,” Molly said. “I didn’t think he was.”
“Maybe he didn’t want you nosing in his business,” Fabian said tentatively, looking as if he weren’t sure he ought to say that. “If he was angry with Siobhan, I’m sure he would’ve done something about it on his own, without you getting in the middle of it.”
“But I’m his girlfriend.” Molly gave the stone floor a little kick with one toe. “I wasn’t nosing in his business.”
“You do to us, all the time,” Fabian pointed out.
“Yes, but you’re my brothers,” Molly said. “Mum’s told me to keep an eye on you since you were born.”
“D’you want us to find out what he’s upset about?” Gideon offered. “We could talk to Arthur for you.”
“No, it’s all right.” Molly shook her head. “I’ll deal with it.” She looked at her brothers then, feeling oddly fond of them and yet awkward as well.
“Thanks,” she added. “For offering.”
Gideon looked as if he wanted to say something more, but Fabian nudged him, and they took off down the corridor. Molly watched them go, and then smoothed down her robes, patted her hair a bit, and headed off for the common room.
Hattie was sitting on her bed in their dormitory, reading her Charms textbook and eating Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. She had just chucked one across the room with a grimace when Molly came in.
“What flavour was that one?” Molly asked.
“Dirt.” Hattie pulled a face. “It was brown, I thought it might be chocolate. Is it time for Charms yet?”
“Nearly. Are you ready?”
Hattie shook her head as she climbed out of bed and stuffed her Charms textbook in her bookbag. “I suppose.”
Molly nodded absently, still thinking about what her brothers had said.
“I think we should go ahead and have the final Gryffindor Girls Council of 1966 tonight, since tomorrow night is the party,” Hattie said cheerfully. “We won’t have a proper council if we try to hold it afterward. We can just start earlier than usual tonight.”
“That sounds all right.”
Molly led the way down to the Charms corridor, where she found Arthur waiting for her with Roddy Feltham and Petula. She was a little surprised to see him there, given that he’d been quite prickly that morning at breakfast and hadn’t walked her to class yesterday, for the first time in two months.
“Hi Arthur,” she said, giving him a tentative smile. She still wasn’t sure what exactly was going on, as he didn’t seem to want to discuss it with her.
“Hi Molly.” His smile wasn’t quite as bright as it usually was, and Molly’s fears from earlier came back, but he still gave her a quick peck on the cheek.
They found seats in Charms, and Arthur sat next to her with Hattie on her other side. Hattie began whispering to the other girls about a council that night, and Molly watched Arthur as he pulled out his notes and quill for class. She wondered if it was that he just hadn’t wanted her to get involved, like the twins had said. It seemed a silly thing to get upset about.
“What is it, Molly?” he asked, noticing her watching him.
“Nothing.” She bent over her own bookbag as Professor Flitwick tried to get the class’s attention.
Arthur took off after Charms, and he did not come down for dinner. Reid told her they were having a study session for a History of Magic quiz that looked quite horrific, and Molly accepted this with a sigh and extracted a promise from Reid that he would get some sandwiches from the kitchens for the two boys to eat while they studied. She was sure that Reid, who knew secret passageways out of the castle, must know how to sneak into the kitchens. He agreed readily and she decided she must have been correct.
She trudged up the stairs after dinner and completed her Arithmancy homework with Hattie and Cecilia, then they began setting up the dormitory for a Gryffindor Girls Council. Siobhan was the last to arrive, well after nine o’clock, and Hattie ushered her into the dormitory impatiently, taking the bag of food from her.
“There are éclairs, treacle tart, and pumpkin pasties,” Siobhan said as she changed clothes.
“No chocolate gateau?” Hattie looked disappointed, but she began arranging the food on the silver tray anyway.
“Shall we start, then?” Cecilia asked, eyeing the éclairs.
“I have some bad news, I’m afraid,” Hattie began, glancing around sombrely at the others as she brushed crumbs off her hands and picked up a pumpkin pasty. “I was chatting with Mary Nevard in Herbology today, and it seems that Gemma Folwell is going out with Reid Akins now.”
Molly’s eyes widened, and she glanced over at Cecilia. Petula and Siobhan had also turned to Cecilia, looking a little wary in Siobhan’s case and slightly worried in Petula’s. Cecilia gave a disdainful sniff and flipped her hair back over her shoulder as she picked up an éclair.
“I really couldn’t care less,” she said haughtily. “In fact, I think someone should warn poor Gemma before she loses an eyebrow too.”
Siobhan rolled her eyes. “Please don’t break them up. He’ll only think you fancy him if you warn Gemma off.”
“I do not,” Cecilia said distinctly, “fancy him.”
“All right, Cecilia,” Hattie said soothingly. “I just thought you should know, that’s all.”
“Well, thank you, Hattie.” Cecilia gave her a stiff smile. “I’m sure Gemma will be fine. I won’t get involved,” she added with a nod to Siobhan, then added, “Unless I see him carrying any flowers.”
“Right then, let’s talk about something else,” Petula said in a forcibly cheerful voice. “Siobhan, how is Addae?”
Molly was impressed that Petula could tell which twin Siobhan was snogging.
Siobhan shrugged. “Fine, I suppose.”
“Right. And Molly, how are you and Arthur?” Petula gave her an encouraging nod. Molly thought she must be feeling guilty about her part in teasing Arthur about the homework schedule and getting him wound up to the point that he’d hexed his friend. Molly, who was still feeling rather guilty still herself because of her remark at the concert about Petula helping to do her homework, smiled rather more brightly than she really felt like.
“We’re just fine, thank you for asking.”
Siobhan frowned at her. “If you’re ‘just fine’, what was all that making me apologise load of dung the other day? And he’s obviously upset about something, you two haven’t been quite so nauseating the past few days. He didn’t even turn up at dinner tonight.”
“Language, Siobhan,” Hattie said half-heartedly.
“Yes, and why did he hex Reid in Defence Against the Dark Arts the other day?” Cecilia asked. “Not that I blame him, of course, I’ve hexed Reid myself and it’s quite satisfying, but Arthur’s always seemed to, rather inexplicably, like him up to this point.”
Molly looked at them dismally, feeling hounded. “Well, I… I don’t know, to be honest. He’s been so prickly, and Petula said Siobhan had just made a little joke…”
“I really didn’t say much,” Siobhan said, but she looked rather uncomfortable. “I heard Dunstan joking about the homework schedule in Care of Magical Creatures, and I just sort of… said something. I thought it was funny.”
“Dunstan was making fun of Molly in class and you didn’t do anything about it?” Hattie said in horror.
“No! No, it wasn’t like that, it was more like… more like he was making fun of Arthur,” Siobhan finished lamely.
“Oh dear,” Petula said.
“But you like Arthur,” Molly said, staring in disbelief at Siobhan. “Why wouldn’t you stop Dunstan?”
“They’re mates, I thought it was just a boy thing,” Siobhan said, looking rather as if she wished she hadn’t said anything. “They always poke fun at each other, and hex each other sometimes. It’s just having a laugh, I thought. It’s what boys do.”
“It’s different when a girl does it,” Hattie said, shaking her head and looked dismayed. “Siobhan, how can you know so much about boys but yet know so little about boys?”
Siobhan gave her a dirty look.
“Hattie’s right,” said Petula uneasily. “I don’t think Arthur’s upset that you’re bossy, Molly. Everyone knows you’re bossy. I think he’s upset that his mates think he’s, well, a little spineless.”
“He’s not,” Molly said immediately.
“They don’t really think that, do they?” Cecilia asked, looking stricken. “He’s such a nice boy. It’s not his fault Molly’s frighteningly domineering.”
Molly didn’t even bother to argue that description, but Cecilia gave her a little conciliatory hug anyway. “We love you in spite of that, obviously,” she added, and Molly smiled at her.
“I know. You’re domineering yourself, Cecilia.”
Cecilia smiled proudly. “I am a prefect.”
“My brothers said that perhaps I shouldn’t have gotten involved, and just let him clear things up with Siobhan on his own if he was angry over what she said.” Molly avoided Siobhan’s gaze, staring down at the tray of food.
“You talked to your brothers about it?” Petula asked in amazement.
“It just sort of came out,” Molly said. “They said I shouldn’t nose in Arthur’s business.”
“They’re thirteen, what do they know?” Siobhan said, rolling her eyes.
“Look, Molly, Arthur loves you, bossy or not,” Hattie said. “I think he’ll just have to deal with this on his own. You only made it worse when you made Siobhan apologise, so I don’t think you should get involved. Your brothers might actually have a point there.”
“You could try not being so bossy,” Petula added with studied nonchalance.
“She can’t help it, it’s in her nature,” Hattie said, giving Molly a comforting pat.
“You just need to learn to deal with men,” Cecilia told her encouragingly. “They’re like dogs.”
“Like dogs?” Hattie asked incredulously.
“Yes, exactly. They’re not very bright, so you have to give them firm commands, and you need to speak to them sharply when they’ve been bad.”
“I try not to speak to them at all if I can avoid it,” Siobhan put in.
“Yes, we all know what you do with them,” Hattie said crossly. “What about love? What about romance?”
“What about them?” Siobhan asked derisively. “You’re only fooling yourself.”
“I don’t believe either of you,” Hattie sniffed. “Don’t rain on Molly’s parade just because both of you are heartless cynics.”
“I am not heartless,” Cecilia said.
“Yes, and I am not a cynic.” Siobhan gave Hattie a silly little grin, and Hattie rolled her eyes in exasperation, but she smiled back as she shook her head.
Molly stretched out on her sleeping bag and hugged her pillow tightly, feeling drained and exhausted. “I suppose I’ll think of something to do about all this.”
“It’ll be fine, Molly. Sleep on it tonight, and in the morning everything will seem brighter.” Petula gave her a comforting pat on the back.
“We’d better go to bed, it’s very late and we’ve got one more day of class. And then the party.” Cecilia gave them all an encouraging smile as she pointed her wand at the lights to extinguish them. “That will be fun, won’t it?”
“Yes, it will. Good night, girls,” Hattie said, lying down and fluffing her pillow.
There was a short chorus of ‘good nights’ and then the girls settled in to sleep. Cecilia had already started snoring, and Molly was nearly asleep, when she heard Siobhan whisper her name.
“Yes?” she whispered back.
“I really am sorry.” Siobhan’s voice was hesitant, but Molly could tell that this time her friend was sincere in her apology. “I didn’t mean to mess things up for you and Arthur.”
“It’ll be all right, Siobhan. I forgive you.”
Siobhan was silent for a moment, then said, “Good night, then.”
“Good night.” That was possibly the closest Siobhan had come to confessing a real emotion in years, Molly thought sleepily as she closed her eyes again.
Arthur seemed nearly his old self again the next day, laughing and joking with their friends at lunch. He walked with their little crowd to Transfiguration after lunch, grinning at Cecilia and Siobhan’s bickering behind them and cracking jokes at Reid, who seemed to take it all in stride as he usually did. She wasn’t sure why he’d gotten over whatever was bothering him, but she was glad he had, since he was now holding her hand and kissing her cheek again every time he saw her. He and Reid seemed to be mates again as well. Boys really were very odd.
The common room was crowded and buzzing with excitement that evening before dinner. Everyone was talking about the party. Molly tried to get Arthur alone to quiz him about his behaviour that week, but he started a game of Exploding Snap with Cosmo, so she just sat there next to him and listened with half an ear while he peppered Cosmo with questions about some old Muggle playwright. Apparently Cosmo’s mother was Muggle, which explained why Arthur was close friends with a fifth-year. None of the Gryffindor sixth-year boys were Muggle-born. Cosmo’s mother taught literature at a Muggle university and Cosmo knew quite a lot about it as well. Molly wasn’t particularly interested, and spent the time creating a list in her head of what she could get her friends for Christmas.
The Gryffindor seventh-years had the common room so thoroughly draped in tinsel and swags of greenery by the time dinner was over that the room looked rather as if a Christmas tree had exploded. Molly wasn’t particularly surprised, as the seventh-years liked to go all-out when they threw a party. Their year had always been quite the partiers, even when they were only third-years. Molly had fond memories of the party Walter Campbell had arranged during her fourth year, even though the broken mantel on the fireplace had made Professor McGonagall quite irate. Something about impending exams made the seventh-years particularly rowdy, and N.E.W.T.s seemed to make them even more unruly than O.W.L.s had. This, coupled with the fact that Gryffindor was now in the lead for the Quidditch cup, having beaten Hufflepuff soundly at the last match, made the Christmas send-off party the loudest and most boisterous Molly had seen yet.
The tables in the common room were laden with butterbeer, mead, and loads of food. Molly picked up a pumpkin tart and retreated to the corner where Hattie sat, curled up in an armchair and playing chess with Cecilia. Molly sat on the arm of Hattie’s chair and watched them while she ate, then went to find Arthur. She thought she heard his voice in the stairwell to the boys’ dormitory, and stood next to the table of food and drink to listen, but it wasn’t Arthur’s voice now, it was Reid’s.
“So, Arthur,” he was saying in a smug voice. “Still working on getting a handle on your girl?”
“Oh, shut up, Reid,” Arthur said irritably. “I don’t need a handle on her. She loves me and I love her. Stay out of it or I’ll hex you again.”
He appeared at the bottom of the staircase, and Molly quickly grabbed a bottle of butterbeer and looked around for someone to talk to, but there was only a small second-year girl, who looked nervously at her and fled. Arthur stopped when he saw her.
“Did you hear….” He appeared to think better of asking her that question, and grabbed a butterbeer for himself.
Arthur seemed to be feigning deafness. She gave him an irritated look and decided to just have out with it.
“Are you upset with me, Arthur? Just go on and say it if you are.”
“I’m not upset with you,” he said steadily, taking her hand and leading the way toward a more secluded spot, next to a snow-covered window.
“I can’t help being quick-tempered and impulsive and bossy,” she said uncertainly, not sure whether to believe him or not. “I’ve tried, you know.”
“I prefer to think of you as fiery,” Arthur said wistfully.
Molly rolled her eyes. “Fiery, then. But you said you love me, even though I’m all those things. Are you changing your mind now?”
“No, of course not.” Arthur raked a hand through his hair. “Molly, I love you because you’re fiery… and bossy and quick-tempered and impulsive. I’m not upset about all that.”
“Then why have you been so grumpy?” she demanded.
“It doesn’t matter now,” he said, pulling her closer to him. “It’s just my stupid friends. It’s nothing you did, honestly. I swear I won’t be grumpy any more.”
Molly let him kiss her a bit, but then pushed him away. “What was all that about getting a handle on me?”
“So you did hear that.” Arthur gave her a crooked smile. “I love you, Molly.”
“Don’t try to distract me,” she said, but he kissed her again and she found she didn’t care so much any more about what his stupid friends had said.
She broke away from him after a moment when she heard tittering and the sound of someone heaving, and turned to see her brothers were pretending to collapse in disgust, miming gagging on each other, to the amusement of their fellow third-years. Arthur started laughing, and Molly shook her head at the twins.
“Idiots,” she said fondly.
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