Chapter 22 : Baby I'm Yours
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Baby, I'm yours
And I'll be yours until two and two is three,
Yours until the mountains crumble to the sea
In other words, until eternity
Molly arrived back at school in good spirits. Her parents, loathe though they were to agree with each other on even the smallest point, had both admitted that Arthur was a nice boy after all. Considering that they had been known to argue for hours over what shade of blue the sky was, she thought that was a nice triumph for her. The twins had even been less horrible than expected. She thought they must like Arthur too, though of course she hadn’t bothered to ask them.
Petula was already in their dormitory when Molly got there, unpacking what she’d brought home with her. Cecilia had apparently already settled in and headed off for parts unknown, as her things had all been returned to their normal spots, and Siobhan’s bag was tossed carelessly on her bed. Siobhan always spent the Christmas holiday at Cecilia’s house, ever since first year when they’d all come back from the holiday to find Siobhan had stayed at school alone. Hattie didn’t seem to have gotten back to school yet, or Siobhan’s bag would probably be unpacked. Hattie hated for their dormitory to be out of order and was likely to clean up after her roommates.
“Hi Molly,” Petula said, looking up from the robes she was folding. “Have a good holiday?”
“Yes, thank you. Arthur came for dinner on Boxing Day and met my parents,” she said in a rush.
“Really? How did it go?”
“Brilliant. My parents liked him, and my brothers didn’t do anything to him! I think they like him too,” she said happily.
“That’s great, Molly.” Petula pulled out another set of robes from her bag and shook them to loosen the wrinkles. “I half-expected you to say your brothers turned his teeth black or something.”
Molly rolled her eyes. “I did too. But they were very nice.”
“Hmm. Maybe you’ve finally had a good influence on them.” Petula put the stack of folded robes into her trunk.
“I doubt it, but it’s sweet of you to say so. Where are Siobhan and Cecilia?”
“Siobhan’s with Addae, he and Akwetee got back this morning. Cecilia is probably in the library, I don’t know.”
Molly sat at the foot of her bed and rested her feet on the lid of her school trunk. “How was your holiday, Petula?”
Petula made a face and swept her long hair aside as she straightened up, letting her trunk close with a bang. “My mum complained about my marks every time she saw me. My sisters came to visit with their horrible children and my dad kept saying how good their marks had been at school. I seriously considered jumping off a cliff.”
“I’m sorry yours were horrible, but I still wish I had sisters,” Molly said with a wistful sigh.
“No,” Petula said distinctly, “you don’t.”
They went downstairs shortly after that to find Cecilia in an epic row with the fifth-year prefect Acacia Bushby-Ferris, apparently over Siobhan, as her name kept being dragged into it. Siobhan herself was nowhere to be seen. Molly tried to figure out what was going on as Cecilia, red-faced, shouted at the younger girl. Cecilia was a head taller than Acacia and was leaning over her, but the girl did not back down. Molly was rather impressed with her fortitude: Cecilia cut an impressive, and intimidating, figure when she was incandescent with rage like this.
“I’ll take points from anyone I see breaking a rule,” Acacia finally said stubbornly when Cecilia paused for breath, and she turned and walked away without a backward glance. Molly wasn’t sure whether this was deliberately intended to send Cecilia completely round the bend with rage, or whether that was simply an unexpected side effect.
Cecilia looked as if she might chase the girl down and hex her, but Hattie came through the portrait hole just then, wearing a shell-pink hat and matching robes under a dark rosy pink cloak, and looked a little alarmed at Cecilia’s obvious temper.
“What’s going on?” she asked anxiously, hurrying over to them as she stripped off her pale pink gloves. “I’ve only just got back, what did I miss?”
“I’m not entirely sure,” Molly said, looking at Cecilia.
“She took points from Siobhan,” Cecilia said, her nostrils flaring as she sucked in an angry breath. “She only saw her coming out of an empty classroom with Akwetee.”
“I thought she was dating Addae?” Hattie said.
Cecilia waved a hand, dismissing this as inconsequential. “Whichever. The point is, she has no idea they did anything in there. She took points from her own house! Over nothing!”
Hattie frowned. “But you know perfectly well what Siobhan must have been doing in there with Addae.”
“That,” said Cecilia, “is not the point. She did not actually catch them at anything. She had no right to take points from her. She just doesn’t like Siobhan, she thinks she’s a…” She struggled to find the right word, her eyes flashing. “Scarlet woman.”
Molly couldn’t help but think Acacia might have a bit of a point about Siobhan, but she would never say it aloud. Siobhan had a good heart, deep down, and Molly was very loyal to her friends, despite Siobhan’s possibly-scarlet nature. Molly knew Siobhan had problems at home, and made allowances for her friend’s behaviour because of it.
Hattie shook her head. “Let’s just calm down, and we can all go down to dinner.”
“If I see Acacia, I’m going to hex her,” Cecilia snarled.
Molly glanced at the stairs to the boys’ dormitory. “Has anyone seen Arthur? Is he back yet?”
Her friends shook their heads.
“Run on up and check if he’s in his room,” Petula suggested.
“Do you think I ought to?” Molly asked nervously.
“Just go, Molly,” Cecilia said impatiently. “I’m hungry, and I want to hex Acacia.”
“You can’t just hex people because they annoy you,” Hattie said.
“I don’t see why not. The world would be a better place if I could hex all the stupid people in it.”
“You’re a prefect, Cecilia!”
Molly climbed the stairs, leaving behind the sound of Hattie and Cecilia squabbling. She found the door labelled ‘Sixth Years’ and pushed it open cautiously. There was no one there, and she took a moment to examine the room. It looked rather like the girls’ dormitory, with five four-posters arranged in a circle, and the boys’ school trunks at the foot of their beds. It smelled strange though, a little like dirty socks.
She wondered which bed was Arthur’s, and the thought made her feel a little warm and breathless as she stared at the white linens and red curtains on the beds.
She started guiltily at the sound of footsteps and turned to see Thaddeus Peabody coming up the stairwell, dressed in his Quidditch robes and looking sweaty, his broom over his shoulder. He looked surprised to see her.
“What are you doing up here, Molly?” he asked.
“I was looking for Arthur.”
“He was just down at the pitch watching us practise. I’m sure he’ll be along shortly.” Thad’s cheeks turned a little pink. “Erm, I need to get cleaned up for dinner…”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Molly said, blushing bright red. “I’ll go.” She ducked past Thad and dashed down the stairwell.
“Was he there?” Hattie asked when she reached the common room.
“What did the boys’ dormitory look like?” Petula asked eagerly.
Cecilia shot her a quelling look and then turned back to Molly. “We saw Thad go up, what happened?”
“Nothing,” Molly said, “I just asked if he’d seen Arthur and then left. He didn’t dock me points for being up there.”
Cecilia snorted. “Of course not. He never docks points from anyone for anything. Thad is the king of ‘let-you-go-with-a-warning’.”
“He’s really awfully nice for a prefect,” Hattie said, smiling.
“Are you saying I’m not nice?” Cecilia demanded.
Arthur and Dunstan were already sitting at the Gryffindor table with Siobhan when the girls got down to the hall. Siobhan was masterfully ignoring Acacia, who was sitting further down the table and who occasionally glared at Siobhan as if Siobhan had deliberately offended her by being caught in an empty classroom with a boy, even if they hadn’t been in a compromising position – something Molly was sure Acacia had probably missed only by moments. Arthur and Dunstan were dissecting the Gryffindor team’s Quidditch practice while they ate.
“Where’s Cosmo?” Petula asked curiously, glancing down the table.
“He’s not back yet,” Arthur said. “He said he went sheeing with his family, but I don’t know what that is. He didn’t answer my last owl before he left.”
“I think you’ll find you mean skiing, Arthur,” Siobhan said, taking a bite of her roast beef nonchalantly while Acacia gave her a death glare. Cecilia fingered her wand, scowling at Acacia.
“Really?” Arthur turned to her eagerly. He had evidently forgotten that Siobhan was Muggle-born as well. “What is it? Have you been?”
“Well, you wear skis, which are long pieces of wood that you strap to your feet, and you use them to slide down a mountain on top of the snow.” Siobhan shrugged. “I’ve never been, no. Cold weather doesn’t particularly appeal to me.”
Arthur looked fascinated. “I see. And what is the function of skiing?”
“There is no function, it’s just for fun.”
“Oh.” He seemed rather disappointed at that, as if he’d been hoping for an elaborate Muggle ritual surrounding the skis.
Molly smiled at him fondly. He was really very cute when he was entranced by Muggles. She thought it rather showed how sweet and thoughtful he was that he cared so about Muggles, although she was glad he had stopped trying to tell her about them all the time. It was as bad as her brothers with sport; they seemed to think that Molly’s ignorance on the subject should be remedied, while she was perfectly happy not knowing or caring about Quidditch. At least Arthur had cottoned on quickly that she wasn’t interested – her brothers were still trying to insert Quidditch facts into conversation so she would learn them, as if she cared about the Falmouth Fwoopers or whatever they were.
Arthur was asking more about Muggle sports, and Siobhan looked a little uncertain as she tried to answer. Siobhan wasn't really interested in sports, just in the athletes, and she didn't spend much time in the Muggle world anyway these days. Molly wondered if Arthur knew about Siobhan’s father, and that she was mostly left to her own devices at home and tended to stay with Cecilia whenever possible. He probably didn’t, as Siobhan kept that to herself as much as she could. Molly continued to eat as she watched Arthur chatting with her friend, and wondered what would happen if he talked about Muggles like this in front of her parents. It was rather a frightening possibility, as he loved Muggles, and her parents did not care a whit about them but loved to argue with each other over anything and would probably use him as an excuse to fight. She decided on the spot that she’d just have to tell them that criticizing Arthur was off-limits, and then shout her mother down and bribe her father with some puddings.
She dragged her attention back to the conversation then, just in time to catch Cecilia making a nasty jab in an airy voice at Reid, who had just arrived with a large Ancient Runes textbook tucked under his arm and a face slightly grey with exhaustion. Considering Cecilia’s owls over Christmas had mentioned Reid and Gemma several times, Molly found this amusing.
Molly sat in Defence Against the Dark Arts the next morning, trying not to watch Arthur, who was sitting beside her, looking adorable in the scarf she’d knitted for him. She was concentrating so hard on not concentrating on him that she jumped when Professor Ampara tapped her wand on the blackboard to start class, making a mellow ringing sound.
“Good morning, class. We’re going to start something new today. It isn’t on the syllabus, but I had, well, an encounter over Christmas and I thought this was something you should all know, these days….” Professor Ampara stared blankly over the students’ heads for a moment, as if remembering something very unpleasant. Her dark brows were knitted thoughtfully.
Molly glanced over at Arthur, who looked worried. Molly remembered what her mother had said, when her father worried over sending her and her brothers back to school after the summer: It’ll be Grindelwald all over again! And who’ll stop him this time? Dumbledore, again! So send them to school, it’s safe there…
“Right,” Professor Ampara said, coming out of her brief reverie and turning to the blackboard. “Let’s get started. The Patronus Charm…”
Molly took notes on the charm while Professor Ampara lectured about it, then stood so the desks could be cleared, feeling a little anxious at being asked to perform the charm already. Molly liked to do research and look things up before trying them.
“You don’t need a partner to try this,” Professor Ampara called out. “Just give it a whirl, go on. The sooner you get started practising this, the easier it will be later on. Think of something very happy, the happiest memory you can. A deep, visceral feeling of happiness will work best when you’re getting started…”
An image formed immediately in Molly’s mind of the night of the concert, Arthur kissing her and saying he loved her, and as the feeling of bubbling happiness in her stomach rose again, she held out her wand.
Immediately, and to Molly’s surprise, a small form burst out of the tip of her wand, and a small silver creature formed in the air ahead of her. It dissolved almost instantly, before she could tell what it was.
“Well done, Miss Prewett! Twenty points to Gryffindor!” Professor Ampara looked very pleased.
“What was the form? I couldn’t tell,” Molly asked, trying to picture the little creature in her mind again. She was still beaming over her unexpected success with the Patronus charm. She was good at Defence Against the Dark Arts, but she didn’t normally manage a complicated spell on her first attempt.
“I don’t know.” Petula had the tip of her tongue at the corner of her mouth, as she always did when concentrating hard. She didn’t appear to have come up with a happy enough memory yet and was twirling her wand absently.
Cecilia had tried three times now to cast the charm and was looking quite enraged at her inability to do so. Professor Ampara came to stand next to her and seemed a little alarmed at Cecilia’s fury.
“You must calm down, Miss Fletcher. The Patronus isn’t going to work when you’re angry. You need to summon a happy memory. Take a deep breath, think of your happiest memory, and release your anger.”
Cecilia took a deep breath and closed her eyes. She held herself perfectly still for a moment before casting the charm, her eyes still closed. Nothing happened.
“Keep trying,” Professor Ampara said encouragingly, then turned to Petula. “Miss Cordingley?”
Petula heaved a sigh and held out her wand, looking as if she were only humouring their teacher. “Expecto Patronum!”
Molly let out a gasp as silver mist came from Petula’s wand, and Cecilia managed a proud little half-smile. Petula looked stunned.
“Did you see that?” she asked in amazement.
Professor Ampara smiled warmly. “Well done, Miss Cordingley.”
“That was wonderful, Petula,” Molly said as their teacher moved on to the other students.
“I actually did it,” Petula said, and she still looked astonished.
Cecilia’s face took on a determined look and she held out her wand again, but again nothing happened when she tried the Patronus.
“Oh no,” she said, her face falling dramatically, “I’ve turned into Petula!”
Petula frowned and aimed a kick at her, but Cecilia dodged it, grinning.
Molly laughed and turned to see how the three Gryffindor boys were getting on. A large silver form was trotting around inside their little circle, and she was not surprised to see that Reid had managed a Patronus. It was a ram, its large horns curled back in a spiral. Reid looked quite proud of himself.
Arthur looked up and their eyes met. He was still laughing over something his friends had been saying, and she thought he looked very handsome when he smiled. Molly went over to him just as Reid’s ram was dissolving.
“Any luck, Arthur?”
“Watch.” He held out his wand and glanced at her with a wicked smile. She knew immediately his chosen memory was of her, and she smiled as he said loudly, “Expecto Patronum!”
A small form burst from his wand and ran around his feet, weaving between his ankles, then stopped in front of Molly and sat up, seeming to look at her before it too dissolved.
Molly looked up at Arthur with a wide smile.
“It’s a weasel,” he said proudly.
“Of course it is.” Molly glanced over her shoulder to make sure Professor Ampara wasn’t looking, and gave Arthur a quick kiss.
“What was that?” Cecilia asked, joining them with Petula on her heels. “Was that yours, Molly?”
“No, it was Arthur’s.” Molly glanced at her friend with a small frown.
“It looked just like yours.” Cecilia was looking at them strangely. “Professor Ampara said no two Patronuses are the same.”
“It couldn’t have been the same then, could it?” Molly tried to picture her own little animal in her mind. “Hang on.” She cast the charm again and the little silver creature burst forth. She concentrated hard on her happy memory this time, to keep it around longer, although it seemed easier now she knew what to expect.
“It’s not quite the same,” Arthur said, examining the Patronus as it sat on its haunches and washed its face with its little paws. “Its face is pointier, and its ears aren’t as round. The tail is different. I’m not sure what it is, though.”
“That’s a mongoose,” Dunstan said unexpectedly.
Arthur frowned at him. “A what?”
“I saw them in India last summer,” Dunstan said. He was now looking at Molly with new respect. “They kill cobras.”
Molly wasn’t sure what to think of that. She looked down at the Patronus as it vanished. “It looks so sweet.”
“So did the one in India, right up until it leapt at the cobra and bit out its throat.”
Now Arthur and Reid looked impressed as well. Reid was watching her with an appraising glance, as if he were taking her seriously for the first time, and Arthur smiled proudly at her. Molly took in the expressions on Reid and Dunstan’s faces and realized with a twinge of annoyance that they had probably always thought of her as only a silly girl. Arthur grinned at his friends then, and Molly felt a little better knowing that he, at least, had always had faith in her.
“It sort of looked like a weasel, didn’t it?” Petula said. “That’s so sweet.”
“What is?” Arthur gave her an odd look.
“You have matching Patronuses, nearly.” Petula smiled fondly at Molly and Arthur. Molly grinned back at her, and could feel her cheeks heating up.
Reid pulled a face, pretending to look ill. “Good Gad.”
“What’s your Patronus?” Arthur asked Petula, shooting a grin at Reid.
“Mist, for now,” Petula said happily. “Cecilia couldn’t do it at all.”
“Really?” Reid gave Cecilia a hopeful smile. “I’d be happy to tutor you. I got one right off. It’s a ram.”
Cecilia gave a disparaging sniff as Petula said, “Yes, we saw it. What’s yours, Dunstan?”
“I’ve got mist right now as well,” he admitted, but he looked pleased that she’d asked him. Petula had still not agreed to go out with him and he spent a lot of time mooning over her. Privately she’d admitted that Dunstan wasn’t really her type, but she liked having him trail along after her, fancying her. Molly thought Petula must have been rather jealous of Reid’s obsessive chasing after Cecilia, and wanted a stalker of her own. It was a shame Reid couldn’t fancy Petula instead.
“Less talking, more spellwork!” Professor Ampara called from across the room.
“So, what did everyone think of Defence today?” Petula asked cheerily that evening as she spooned pudding onto her plate.
“It was a good lesson,” Molly said. “What do you suppose happened to Professor Ampara over Christmas?”
“She must’ve had a run-in with a dementor, but I can’t imagine why. She’s only a teacher at Hogwarts, why would anyone send a dementor after her?” Cecilia glanced up at the staff table, where Professor Ampara was drinking wine a little too quickly. “She’s hardly the type to break any laws, is she?”
“Maybe the dementors are outside Ministry control again,” Arthur said thoughtfully.
Molly felt a shiver run down her spine at the thought. “They can’t be, can they? They haven’t been since…”
“Twenty years ago, on the continent,” Arthur said. “Grindelwald.”
There was an uncomfortable silence at that, and Molly looked up at the staff table to see the headmaster was looking her way. She felt a little startled, but he smiled briefly at her and the knot in her stomach eased a bit at seeing his kind blue eyes.
“We’ve got Dumbledore though,” she said bravely. “Nothing to worry about here at school.”
“I suppose,” Cecilia said, but she didn’t look convinced. Siobhan slid into the seat next to her then, smiling brightly as she snatched a biscuit from Cecilia’s plate.
“What are we talking about?” she asked, taking a bite. Molly thought she saw a bruise low on Siobhan’s neck, but her robes were pulled up a bit high and she couldn’t be certain. A glance over at the Hufflepuff table showed Addae Owusu was looking a little dishevelled, and his twin was grinning at him widely.
“You’re late.” Cecilia surveyed her friend with a frown. “Where’ve you been?”
Siobhan smiled at her, wiggling her eyebrows.
“Nevermind,” Cecilia sighed. “We were talking about Patronuses and dementors.”
“Why on earth would you talk about dementors, and what are Patronuses?” Siobhan continued to pick at the food on Cecilia’s plate, but the talk of dementors seemed to have made Cecilia lose her appetite, and she pushed it over in front of Siobhan, who picked up a fork and started in on Cecilia’s rhubarb crumble.
“The Patronus Charm repels dementors,” Cecilia said, and she looked up at Professor Ampara again.
“Arthur’s Patronus is a weasel, Reid’s is a ram,” Molly said, smiling at her boyfriend. Reid glanced up from the book he was reading and tried to catch Cecilia’s eye, but she ignored him.
“Molly’s is a mongoose,” Arthur said proudly.
“They’re animals?” Siobhan looked interested.
“If you do it right,” Petula said mischievously. “Cecilia didn’t manage one at all. I only got silver mist.”
Siobhan grinned. “Petula managed something that Cecilia didn’t?”
Cecilia scowled darkly and didn’t respond.
“Well, it sounds like a good charm,” Siobhan said, still grinning. “You’ll have to show me how to do it. Well, Molly and Petula will, obviously, not Cecilia.”
“Are you planning on running into any dementors, Siobhan?” Dunstan asked as Cecilia gave Siobhan a dirty look.
She took a large bite of crumble, still looking inordinately cheerful. “You never know, do you?”
Molly looked up at the staff table again worriedly, wondering what exactly had happened to Professor Ampara over Christmas. Aminta Ampara looked strained as she drank her wine, not touching the food on her plate. Molly caught a glimpse of concern on Professor Dumbledore’s face as he spoke to the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, but her attention was caught by the conversation at her table, which had turned to Quidditch, and she forgot about analysing their teacher and joined in with her friends.
A/N: Thanks to the eHPF (Elderly Harry Potter Fans) crew for some great discussion on Molly's Patronus. Sorry if Patronus lessons are cliche, but hey they're 6th years, it's the rise of Voldy, and I'm setting up for something with the Defence teacher. Plus, it's going to be fun in the next chapter *evillaugh*
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