Chapter 21 : Come On Down To My Boat
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Come on down to my boat baby
Come on down where we can play
Come on down to my boat baby
Come on down we'll sail away.
Arthur arrived at Molly’s house, coughing slightly from accidentally inhaling a bit of ash, to find her waiting for him in front of the fireplace. There was a large Christmas tree in the corner behind her which had to have been magically enhanced to be able to hold the weight of the baubles crowded together all over it, and the entire room seemed to be coated in tinsel. Apparently Molly’s mother liked to decorate in the manner of the Gryffindor seventh-years.
Molly threw herself into his arms without even waiting for him to dust the soot off.
“Hello there,” he said, hugging her tightly.
“I’m so glad to see you,” she said, reaching up to kiss him.
Arthur jumped away from her when he heard a voice yelling, “Mum! Arthur Weasley’s here! Molly’s kissing him!”
Molly turned to glare at her brothers, who were peeking through the door and grinning at her.
“Better dust off quickly before Mum sees you,” one of the twins said mischievously.
Molly grabbed a clothes-brush from atop the mantel and started brushing the soot from both of their clothes. Arthur heard footsteps thudding down the hall and felt his stomach knot up.
“What’s your mum like?” he asked nervously.
“Well…” Molly shrugged, grimacing slightly. “She’s a bit –”
The door to the room slammed open, and Arthur could see the twins scurrying away behind a small woman wearing flowing green robes, with auburn hair tied up into an elegant knot. She had a regal bearing that made her seem taller than she was.
“Good afternoon, Mister Weasley,” she said, striding toward him and putting out a hand. “I’m Antonia Prewett, Molly’s mother.”
“Good afternoon,” he said, still a little nervous, but he shook her hand. She smiled at him approvingly; apparently his handshake had passed muster.
“You can call him Arthur, Mum,” Molly said, eyeing her mother a little warily.
“I taught you manners, young lady,” Mrs. Prewett said severely. “When he gives me permission to call him by his first name, then I will, not because you said I might.”
Molly gave her mother a furious look that clearly said she would like to shout at her for correcting her behaviour in front of her boyfriend.
“Please call me Arthur,” he said quickly, hoping to redirect both of them.
Mrs. Prewett smiled at him. “Come with me, I’ll introduce you to my husband.”
“Nobody told my mum about last night,” Molly hissed to him as they followed her mother into the hallway, which was also thoroughly decorated with swags of greenery, gold Christmas baubles, and yet more tinsel. “So don’t mention it in front of her, or she’ll shout at me about it.”
“Right.” Arthur looked apprehensively at Mrs. Prewett’s back. She opened a door at the end of the hallway and gestured them inside.
Molly’s father sat in an extremely ugly mustard-coloured armchair in an overcrowded study, reading a novel. There was a merciful lack of Christmas décor in the study, and Arthur wondered if this was because Mr. Prewett did not want any, or if there was simply nowhere to put it around the abundance of books and papers that were stacked haphazardly on every shelf and coating the large oak desk.
Mr. Prewett looked up when they came in and nodded at Arthur. “Ah, you must be young Mr. Weasley.”
“Arthur, this is my husband, Molly’s father, Hippolytus Prewett,” Mrs. Prewett said, smiling at her husband in a manner that indicated he had better be on his best behaviour.
“Nice to meet you,” Mr. Prewett said, ignoring his wife and not rising from the horrible mustard chair.
Arthur was glad Molly had warned him or he would have been quite confused that her father acted as though he’d never set eyes on Arthur before. He hurried over to shake hands, and Mr. Prewett gave him an encouraging nod.
“You can call him Arthur, dear,” Mrs. Prewett said, causing Molly to shoot her an outraged stare.
Molly’s mother shot the mustard chair a look of distaste, then gave a loud sniff as she held out her arms, herding Molly and Arthur out of the study. “We’ll leave you to your work, dear,” she said to her husband, who smiled blandly up at her, picking up his book again.
“She’s upset that my dad won’t help her take down the Christmas decorations,” Molly said under her breath so her mother wouldn’t hear. “He said he had work to do, but he’s reading an Auror novel.”
“Molly, I could use a little help in the kitchen. Arthur, why don’t you go upstairs and check on the twins for me? Their room is the second door on the left.” Mrs. Prewett smiled at them both warmly, but there was a steely glint in her eye that Arthur recognized. Meeting Molly’s mum was starting to explain rather a lot about Molly, but Arthur figured it was best not to say this to his girlfriend.
“Yes, Mrs. Prewett,” he said. Molly looked as if she wanted to argue, but she deflated a bit and said, “Yes, Mum.”
Arthur climbed the stairs and headed for the room from whence was coming a small popping sound, followed by the mischievous chuckles of the twins.
“Hello, boys,” he said, pushing the door open. “Your mum told me to check on you.”
“She doesn’t trust us at all,” Gideon said resentfully, as a small device in front of him emitted a loud belch of violet smoke and a small silver hook protruding from it whirred around brokenly.
Arthur eyed the little device warily. “What does that do?”
“Well, nothing right now. We’re trying to fix it.” Fabian held up another device that had apparently broken off of the other one.
“Right.” Arthur sat down on one of the beds and looked around. The twins’ room was done in a deep, rich blue, with small dancing hippogriffs sprinkled on the striped wallpaper. There were hippogriffs everywhere: small figures on shelves, stuffed toys in a battered hippogriff-shaped toy box, and on the fabric of the blue curtains.
Fabian noted him looking. “We wanted to own a hippogriff ranch when we were little,” he explained.
“It would still be fun,” Gideon said wistfully.
“Actually, we’re glad you’re here, Arthur, even if Mum doesn’t trust us not to blow up the house,” Fabian began. The device let out another belch of smoke and he fanned it quickly.
“Yes, we wanted to talk to you about Molly,” Gideon added.
Arthur felt his stomach clench at this statement. He was getting rather tired of people trying to talk to him about Molly and his relationship with her.
“We heard about what happened at school. We tried to tell Molly not to get involved, but she’s so bossy, she always has to butt in everywhere.” Fabian rolled his eyes.
“Boys, I really don’t think –” Arthur began.
“Look, you can’t let Molly boss you about all the time,” Gideon interrupted. “She’ll stamp all over you if you let her, you’ve got to stand up to her.”
“Yeah, you’ve got to be your own man,” Fabian said, and Arthur thought this was rather rich coming from someone whose voice had not yet settled into one octave.
“Not that she won’t try to boss you around anyway,” Gideon added thoughtfully. “She’s always ordering us about and nosing into our business.”
“But you don’t always have to do what she tells you. Our mum and dad are the same way,” Fabian told him knowledgably. “Mum tells Dad what to do all the time, and sometimes he does it, and sometimes he does what he likes. If he did what Mum told him all the time, I think she’d be bored.”
“Right. Molly’s quite a lot like Mum, but she’d never admit it.”
Arthur stared quietly for a moment at a hippogriff-shaped lamp on one of the matching desks in the room, thinking about what they’d said. “I appreciate your help, boys, but really –” He stopped at the sound of footsteps in the hall and looked up at the doorway just as Molly appeared. She cast a suspicious look at her brothers and then smiled at Arthur.
“Dinner’s ready. Mum said to wash up first,” she said, directing the last at the twins.
Gideon had apparently hidden the broken device behind his back before his sister could see it. “We’ll be right down,” he said.
“Think about what we said,” Fabian told Arthur as he rose to follow Molly.
“You weren’t talking about me, were you?” Molly asked suspiciously.
“Why would we do that?” Fabian said innocently.
“Don’t listen to a word they say,” Molly said to Arthur, giving her brothers a dark glare as she closed their door. They smiled innocently at their sister, and she did not appear to notice the little cloud of violet smoke puffing up from behind Gideon.
Arthur made a noncommittal noise. Her brothers might actually have a point. He thought they knew their sister rather better than she thought they did. He ducked into the bathroom for a quick wash, since his hands were still a little sooty, then followed Molly downstairs.
Molly’s father was seated at the head of the table, reading the same novel he’d had earlier, and Mrs. Prewett was bringing food in to the table while glaring at her husband. He was blithely pretending not to notice this, but he looked up when Molly and Arthur came in.
“Did you tell the boys to wash up?”
“Yes, Dad,” Molly said, sitting down next to her father and indicating that Arthur should sit next to her.
“Did you make sure they did?”
“Oh, Hippolytus, don’t be ridiculous, they’re thirteen years old now,” Mrs. Prewett said, setting a platter of sliced ham on the table with a bang. “They’re perfectly capable of washing their hands by themselves.”
“Are you implying that they might actually wash up properly without supervision? Our sons?” he asked mildly.
“Of course not,” snapped Mrs. Prewett, reversing gears completely.
The twins came running in and slid into their chairs. Arthur noticed a flash of silver as Gideon sat down, but neither Mrs. Prewett nor Mr. Prewett appeared to have seen this.
The conversation stayed innocuous until the pudding, with the twins remaining silent but for the occasional snicker down at the end of the table, and Mr. and Mrs. Prewett sniping at each other now and then, when Mrs. Prewett turned quite suddenly to Arthur and asked what he thought of “our little Molly.”
“Erm,” he said, trying not to blush and wondering what exactly the correct response to this might be, “She’s a wonderful girl.”
Molly smiled at him. Apparently that had been the correct response for her.
“And what do you think of the apple cake?” Mrs. Prewett asked, smiling at the half-eaten slice on his plate.
“It’s delicious,” Arthur said honestly, as it was indeed one of the best Dorset apple cakes he’d eaten.
“I made it,” Molly said unexpectedly, and Arthur turned to her with a grin.
“You did? Really? It’s brilliant, Molly,” he said, and when he heard the lovesick note in his own voice, he stopped talking and bent over his cake, feeling a blush creep up his neck. She could cook after all, he thought happily, taking another bite.
Molly looked quite pleased, and her mother was smiling at them indulgently, and Arthur wondered if Mrs. Prewett had started this conversation solely so her daughter could show off. He decided then that he quite liked Molly’s mum.
“Yes, Molly’s a good girl, although she does have her moments. She’s not always appreciative of gifts she receives,” Mrs. Prewett said with a wink at her daughter.
Molly looked as if she were trying not to roll her eyes. “I said it was a nice dress, Mum, aside from the pink. I don’t like pink,” she said stubbornly. “I’ll just charm it to be purple and it will be fine. I never said I didn’t appreciate it.”
“I like pink,” Mrs. Prewett said, sounding quite as stubborn as her daughter. “Pink is a lovely colour. My entire room is decorated in a lovely dark pink.”
Mr. Prewett made a small noise that might have been a snort, and his wife turned to him with a baleful glare.
“But of course Hippolytus doesn’t mind the pink, do you dear?” she asked with poisonous sweetness.
“It doesn’t bother me,” Molly’s father said calmly, not looking up from his book, which he’d taken back out after finishing his ham. “I’m red-green colour-blind.”
“But…” Arthur frowned slightly. Last night Mr. Prewett had directed him to Molly’s window and noted the colour of her drapes was red.
Mr. Prewett winked at him, and Arthur had to wonder if Molly’s father had been lying about his colour-blindness solely to annoy his wife, who had apparently decorated their room solely to annoy her husband, or whether he simply knew that his daughter’s drapes were red because someone had told him they were.
Arthur had only a moment to ponder this mystery before Mrs. Prewett interrupted his thoughts, gazing darkly at her husband as she asked, “And what classes do you take, Arthur?”
“Erm…” Arthur listed his classes for her, and her eyebrows rose slightly when he mentioned Muggle Studies.
“Muggle Studies, really. What made you take that class?”
“I’ve always been very interested in Muggles. It’s my favourite class,” Arthur said, a little self-consciously. Molly’s family were purebloods, and although she didn’t mind his Muggle fascination, he wasn’t sure what her family would think of it. They must know his family were called blood traitors; sometimes it seemed everyone knew. For the first time in his life, Arthur was nervous of someone’s reaction to his family: he wanted Molly’s parents to approve of him.
Molly’s parents were eyeing each other, and Arthur rather thought they were each waiting for the other to express their opinion so they could disagree with it.
He was saved from this by a loud bang from the end of the table, and everyone turned to the twins, who blinked at them innocently. A small puff of scarlet smoke rose from Gideon’s lap. He shifted in his seat slightly, and his innocent smile looked a little strained; whatever he had in his lap was apparently growing hot.
“What,” asked their father, “do you two think you are doing?”
“I don’t want to know what you’ve got, just go to your room.” Mrs. Prewett gazed at them sternly.
Gideon shovelled one more large bite of cake into his mouth before taking off with his brother on his heels, slamming the dining room door behind him.
Mrs. Prewett heaved a long-suffering sigh. “Those two,” she said, clucking her tongue. “I don’t know what I’m going to do with them.”
“At least when they’re home, you can yell at them in person, and we save a bit on Howler costs,” Mr. Prewett said gruffly, then added in an aside to Arthur as he stood up, “We buy them in bulk, you know.”
“Boys will be boys,” Mrs. Prewett said. “Especially those boys. Molly, you may be excused tonight, as you’ve a guest. Your father will help me clear up.”
“Oh I will, will I?” Mr. Prewett eyed his wife malignantly. He had reached the doorway and paused at his wife’s words. “I’m going to my study, dear, I’m sure you can handle things on your own.”
Molly’s mum scowled at him as he disappeared into his study. Molly, however, looked delighted that she did not have to help with the clean-up. “Thanks, Mum! Come upstairs,” she said, giving Arthur’s hand a tug as she stood. “I want to show you what Hattie gave me for Christmas.”
“You keep your brothers with you as chaperones if you’re going into your room, Molly,” Mrs. Prewett said sternly as they reached the hall.
“I’m of age, Mum,” Molly said in a long-suffering voice, propping a hand on her hip in the doorway.
“Then you can move out if you want to have boys alone in your room, since you’re of age,” her mother shot back.
“Fine. Gideon! Fabian!” Molly bellowed down the hall, causing Arthur to jump, startled. Her brothers’ heads popped out of the drawing room to look at her expectantly. “Come on, we’re going upstairs,” she told them.
“Why should we do that?” one of them asked.
“Yeah, we’re busy here.”
Mr. Prewett appeared in the doorway to his study. “Boys, listen to your mother.”
“But Molly told us to, not Mum,” Gideon pointed out.
Their father frowned at them. “Get upstairs, all of you.”
Molly gave a loud, disapproving sniff, and hustled her brothers upstairs. Arthur followed her but couldn’t help glancing back at her parents as they went.
“So, what makes you think I’ll help you clear all that up?” Molly’s father asked gruffly.
“Oh, I think I can convince you,” said his wife, stepping into his arms. They kissed as Arthur went up another step and out of eyesight.
Molly had apparently overheard her parents, because she rolled her eyes as she ushered him into her room. Gideon and Fabian had already made themselves comfortable on Molly’s bed, both sprawled out as if they owned the place. Molly’s room was done entirely in a deep garnet that reminded him of the Gryffindor common room. It was a bit smaller than the twins’ room, with a four-poster bed with gold tassels hanging from the acorn-shaped finials, a large mirror in front of a closet overflowing with knitted clothing, and a chair upholstered in the same red brocade as her drapes in front of a small oak desk. Arthur plopped down into this chair while Molly closed the door behind them, and tried not to look too much at Molly’s bed.
“Look what Hattie gave me,” she said enthusiastically, grabbing an ornately wrapped box from the top of her dresser and pulling out what looked like short, thin knitting needles attached at one end by some sort of cord. She brandished these at him with an air of great excitement.
“What is it?” Arthur asked cautiously, eyeing the contraption warily, while one of the twins rolled his eyes at his sister.
“Round knitting needles!” Molly hugged them to her chest. “Now I can knit socks much more easily. Using four needles is tedious. She gave me two pair! Large gauge and narrow gauge. It’s going to be brilliant. Hattie is the sweetest.”
Arthur had no idea what she was talking about, but she was happy so he smiled. “That’s great, Molly.”
“For the record, if you wanted to make me socks in my Quidditch team colours, that would be a good birthday present,” Fabian said, paging through a book that had been on Molly’s bedside table. “I can’t believe you read this rubbish.”
Molly turned red and snatched the book away from him. Arthur caught a glimpse of the cover as she stuffed it into the top drawer of her bedside table: a swarthy and muscular moustachioed man dressed as a pirate held a swooning woman with long blonde curls and a silky dress perched rather precariously over her ample bosom. The name ‘Fifi LaFolle’ was plastered across the front cover in large, curly pink letters.
“What are your Quidditch team colours?” Molly asked, clearly trying to divert attention from the book.
“The Falcons, remember?”
Molly gave him an impatient look. “And what are their colours?”
“Molly doesn’t know any teams,” Gideon said to Arthur, grinning. “Watch. Molly, what’s the Appleby team called?”
Molly scowled at him. “I hate when you do this, you know, it’s not funny. Are they the Apples?”
Arthur tried not to smile. Gideon and Fabian were chuckling wickedly. This was apparently a recurring pastime for them. “Wait, wait, I’ve got one,” Fabian said excitedly. “Molly, what’s the Ballycastle mascot?”
“I have better things to do than worry about Quidditch mascots,” she said haughtily.
“It’s Barny the Fruitbat,” Arthur said, coughing to cover a laugh.
“Oh, don’t you start too, Arthur,” she said severely, frowning at him.
He arranged his features hurriedly into a sombre expression. “Sorry, Molly.”
“If you want socks, you’d better tell me the colours,” Molly told the twins, who were still grinning widely.
“The Falmouth Falcons’ colours are dark grey and white,” Arthur said helpfully.
“Aw, Arthur, you’re ruining the fun,” Gideon said, still grinning.
Molly eyed her brothers. “I’ll give you both a Galleon if you go away and keep a lookout for Mum.”
“What, and leave you alone with a male? Unchaperoned?” Fabian gave her an exaggeratedly astonished look, affecting a very upper-class accent that reminded Arthur a bit of Thaddeus Peabody. “The impropriety! Never, dear sister, never!”
“And I’ll look for a charm to fix that thing you’ve been working on, if you promise not to tell Mum I helped you with it,” Molly added.
“Right, see you later,” Fabian said, sliding down from the bed.
“If we hear Mum coming, we’ll hurry in, so keep all your clothes on,” Gideon added.
Arthur felt his ears turn red at that, and Molly flushed, but she let the twins go without another word, and they were laughing softly as they pulled the door closed behind them.
“Oh, finally,” she said, stepping closer to Arthur, her arms sliding around his neck. “I thought they’d never leave.”
“I think that about my brothers frequently too,” Arthur agreed, and she chuckled as he bent down to kiss her.
Arthur sat down on Molly’s bed while she hid another Fifi LaFolle novel that had been under her pillow, and he pretended not to see it, then she joined him, curling up next to him.
“What did your parents say when you told them about me?” he asked, brushing a lock of auburn hair from her face.
“Oh, my mum thought it was sweet, so my dad said he’d kill you if you tried anything,” Molly said carelessly, her head on his shoulder and eyes closed happily. Arthur froze with his hand hovering above her head, eyes wide, and she chuckled. “He was only joking, I think. What did your parents say?”
“My mum cried,” Arthur admitted, relaxing a bit again. Her father hadn’t seemed to be on the verge of killing him earlier, and the twins were keeping a lookout, after all. “She kept saying her baby was growing up. It was awful. My dad just blew a smoke heart out of his pipe. You’d like him,” he added proudly. “My dad’s the best.”
“Do you think they’d like me?” Molly asked, looking up at him with a slightly worried expression.
He brushed a hand across her cheek comfortingly. “Of course. D’you think your parents like me?” He wanted to add, in spite of the Weasley blood-traitor reputation, but was not quite brave enough to say it.
She smiled up at him sweetly. “How could they not?”
He was just leaning down to kiss her again when the door slammed open and the twins burst in.
“Oh good, you’re still dressed,” Fabian said, hopping onto the bed. “Mum’s coming.”
Arthur let go of Molly so quickly she fell back against the headboard and hit her head, but she sat up again immediately, rubbing the back of her head, as Arthur scooted down to the foot of the bed, so that the twins were between them. They all affected a casual air as Mrs. Prewett’s footsteps sounded on the stairs.
“Molly, it’s nine o’clock,” Mrs. Prewett said, peeking her head into the room through the open door.
“Oh, is it already?” Molly asked brightly, her eyes wide and innocent in a manner quite reminiscent of her brothers. Her mother’s eyes narrowed slightly.
Arthur recognized this as his cue. “I’d better get home,” he said, sliding off the bed.
“I’ll walk you to the fireplace,” Molly said, following him.
Arthur paused in the doorway to shake her mother’s hand. “Thank you very much for dinner, Mrs. Prewett, it was quite delicious.”
She smiled at him despite her obvious suspicions about what they’d been up to. “It was lovely to meet you, Arthur. Do come round again, won’t you?”
Molly grabbed his hand and led the way down the stairs, with her mother following them. When they reached the bottom of the stairs, Mrs. Prewett bellowed down the hall, “Arthur’s leaving, Hippolytus!”
“And what d’you want me to do about it, woman?” came his answer from the study.
Mrs. Prewett swelled, her eyes flashing, and Molly hurried into the drawing room, shutting the door on her mother’s shouts.
“Is your dad really colour-blind?” Arthur asked in a low voice.
Molly shrugged. “If he was, he never mentioned it until Mum said she was thinking about doing their room in pink and green. The twins are not, and they say sons will get it from their father.”
“Ah.” Arthur had rather thought that might be the case. The constant battle of wills between Molly’s parents sounded exhausting, but then he’d seen them kissing after dinner so they did seem like they were in love… It was very odd. Molly’s house was a very interesting place to be, he thought as he stepped into the fireplace.
“I love you, Arthur. I’ll see you at school,” she said, stepping up next to him for a moment to kiss him, holding out a blue and white porcelain urn full of Floo powder to him.
Arthur took a handful and kissed her back. “I love you too, Molly.”
The last thing he saw was her waving to him before he spun out of sight, the green flames breathing a warm breeze over him.
A/N: Once again, sorry for the wait. I hope you enjoyed the chapter; let me know what you thought - I really couldn't decide if I liked it or not, hence the delay. My mother is coming to visit from the 15th-29th, so there will probably not be any updates until after that. Forgive the absence and check back in two weeks! Thanks!
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