Chapter 27 : Let's Live For Today
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We were never meant to worry the way that people do
And I don't need to hurry as long as I'm with you
We'll take it nice and easy and use my simple plan
You'll be my lovin' woman, I'll be your lovin' man
Arthur walked back to the common room, and felt like skipping the entire way, and might have if his knees didn't feel so weak with relief. He and Molly had made up! Molly had gone off to find Hattie; they’d been on their way to the library to write an essay when the duel distracted them. Arthur was going to grab his Defence textbook and meet them there. He thought he could run all the way there just to see her again and be next to her, see her smile and hear her say his name.
Being apart from Molly was the absolute worst, but the jubilation he now felt at being back with her made the few days of abject misery he'd endured fade in his mind.
Gideon and Fabian accosted him as soon as he emerged from the portrait hole. They did not look at all disturbed by the afternoon’s events, and were grinning with excitement.
“Well, are you back together? Did she forgive you?” Fabian asked eagerly.
“Yes, your frighteningly reckless plan worked brilliantly,” Arthur said ruefully, grinning at them. “You might have told me you had things planned for today, it was purely by chance that I saw you there. And I didn't know what I was supposed to do to play my part, either.”
The twins glanced at each other, and Arthur’s grin faded at their expressions.
“Actually, we didn’t mean for it to be then,” Gideon admitted. “We just wanted Andromeda to help us stage a duel, then we could make sure Molly knew about it. It wouldn’t have done any good to have a duel if she didn’t see it.”
“But Bellatrix saw us talking to her sister, and she flipped her lid,” Fabian continued. “She thinks we’re blood traitors, and Andromeda too, because we’re friends with Muggle-borns. It’s lucky you were there after all, Arthur. And Molly as well. I didn’t realize she could cast such a powerful shield charm.”
“Yeah, lucky,” Gideon agreed. “That could’ve gone badly.”
Arthur stared at them in shock. “You didn’t plan any of that?”
They shook their heads, not looking at all worried.
“Merlin’s beard.” Arthur ran a hand through his hair. “You two really are going to get yourselves expelled at the rate you’re going. Or hexed into oblivion.”
“Nah,” Fabian said cheerfully. “We’ll be fine. We’ve got each other.”
“I always watch his back, and he watches mine,” Gideon agreed.
Arthur shook his head in disbelief. Watching each other’s backs wouldn’t do any good if they were both running headlong into danger. He knew they weren’t his little brothers, but he was starting to feel quite as protective of them as Molly did. He didn’t think they realized that was the reason Molly was always 'nosing in their business' as they put it; she wanted them to stay safe and out of trouble. It did not seem a likely scenario.
“Could you, erm, do something for us now?” Gideon asked.
“Anything.” Arthur regretted it as soon as he said it, and hoped the twins didn't want another accomplice.
“Would you convince Molly not to write to Mum about the staircase? She likes to write Mum whenever we get in trouble, and since Dumbledore didn't write her, we were sort of hoping Molly wouldn't either.”
“What Mum doesn't know won't hurt us,” Fabian put in.
“How do you know she hasn't already written your mum?” Arthur asked.
“Mum's got a quick turn-around on Howlers,” Gideon said with a grimace. “We would have gotten one by now.”
“We think Mum might Apparate into Hogsmeade and send the Howler from there, just to get them here quicker,” Fabian added.
Arthur laughed. “I'll see what I can do.”
“Thanks, Arthur, you're a pal.”
“Yeah, and thanks for the shield charm too, and good luck to you with Molly,” Fabian said, holding out a hand. Arthur shook Fabian’s hand, then Gideon’s, and they grinned at him and took off up the stairs to the boys’ dormitory. He decided he’d rather not know what they were up to now.
Molly was waiting for him in the library at a table in the back, nicely hidden behind the stacks, but Hattie was nowhere to be seen. Molly smiled up at him in welcome when she saw him and his heart sped up. It was good to see her smiling at him again.
“Couldn't find Hattie?” he asked as he sat down next to her.
“She said she thought we should spend some time alone,” Molly said. “She went back to the common room.”
“That was quite nice of her.”
“I thought so,” Molly agreed, quirking one eyebrow at him.
“I didn't want to study anyway,” Arthur said, snatching the book out of her hand and tossing it onto the table.
Molly giggled as he reached for her.
Everything seemed back to normal again the following morning. Gideon and Fabian were looking quite pleased with themselves, probably because Molly had agreed not to write their mother about the staircase explosion (he rather thought she liked the idea of them owing her a favour). Molly was being more affectionate with Arthur than ever, as if she were trying to make up for shouting at him.
He was thoroughly enjoying this treatment at dinner a few nights after they'd made up, with Molly solicitously adding more food to his plate whenever a clear spot opened up, while he discussed Quidditch with Dunstan and Cosmo. Petula was buried in a novel, holding it up in front of her as she ate. It looked quite a lot like the ones he'd seen in Molly's bedroom over Christmas, but he did not remark upon this, and Molly seemed to be pretending not to notice the book. Hattie and Cecilia were listening to the Quidditch discussion half-heartedly, but Hattie kept peering at the cover of Petula's novel.
Reid arrived late with a sheaf of papers clutched to his chest, looking hollow-eyed and slightly dishevelled. Arthur thought the eleven-N.E.W.T. attempt must not be going well today. Reid was always overloaded, and Arthur wondered, not for the first time that year, how he was managing to get everything done. It seemed impossible that there was enough time in the day for him to accomplish his schoolwork, much less have time to stalk Cecilia.
“Hi Reid,” Hattie said cheerily, waving at him. Cecilia gave her a suspicious look, which Hattie ignored.
Siobhan had stopped by only long enough to say hello before moving on down the table to where the Gryffindor seventh-years were sitting, where she was now firmly wrapped around Andrew Bishop, to the obvious consternation of both Addae Owusu over at the Hufflepuff table and Roddy Feltham, who was sitting with the Gryffindor Quidditch team and trying not to look too much at Siobhan, for whom he evidently still carried a torch. She looked up then, however, and saw Reid sitting down near Hattie and whispered something to Andrew, who grinned as Siobhan untangled herself from him and hurried down toward her friends.
“Andrew, eh?” Cosmo said as Siobhan sat down next to Cecilia. “He's kind of an idiot. What do you see in him?”
“His Patronus is a Clydesdale,” Siobhan said with a satisfied smirk. Cecilia gave her a pained look, and Molly's eyes went briefly to the cover of Petula's novel.
Cosmo frowned. “I don't get it.”
“Nevermind. What've you got there, Reid?”
“Divination homework,” he said tiredly. “Horoscopes. Just when I think we're done with them, they come back to bite me on the-”
“Language,” Hattie said brightly. “I never took Divination. What sort of things do you study about horoscopes?”
“I'm supposed to draw up my own natal chart and someone else's. Stupid homework for stupid old Vablatsky. Anybody want to volunteer?” Reid looked around hopefully.
“What exactly is a natal chart?” Dunstan asked suspiciously.
“It won't hurt,” Reid said. “Much.”
Siobhan snickered appreciatively as Dunstan shot Reid a dirty look. Arthur thought he saw a smile flicker across Cecilia's face, but he was sure he'd imagined it.
“So, natal charts, Reid?” Arthur asked. “That's like telling people they're a Pisces or whatnot? My brother Bilius took Divination, but he failed his O.W.L.”
“Yeah, that sort of thing. I've got a list here if anyone wants to know their sun sign.” Reid tapped the stack of papers sitting next to his plate, and glanced at Cecilia, who was ignoring him, her head propped up on one hand, staring down the table at Andrew Bishop and his friends.
Cosmo had his mouth full, but managed to say, “I already know mine, I’m a Virgo.”
Reid took one more bite of his roast beef and picked up the papers. “Right then,” he said, shuffling through his papers as he chewed. “Molly, your birthday was the end of October, you’re a Scorpio.”
Molly raised her eyebrows slightly. She plainly had no idea what that meant. Arthur tried to remember anything his brother had told him about astrology, but he hadn't paid much attention except when Bilius rambled on about predicting the future. The omens had been entertaining, but the astrology had been a little dull.
“Arthur, you’re in February, aren’t you?” Reid asked.
He nodded. “The sixth.”
“Next week,” Molly said, smiling at him tenderly. Arthur smiled back at her and Siobhan rolled her eyes at them.
“Right.” Reid scanned the paper he was holding. “You’re an Aquarius. Dunstan, you were just before Christmas break, so you’re a Sagittarius. Petula?”
“October first,” she said disinterestedly, still engrossed in her novel.
“You’re a Libra. And Hattie?”
She peered at the list over his shoulder. “I’m not until July fourteenth.”
“That’s Cancer.” Reid gave Siobhan an expectant look.
“December nineteenth,” she said, looking a little bored.
“Right, you’re a Sagittarius too.” He turned to Cecilia, who had been ignoring him from the other end of the group the entire time. Cecilia scowled at him.
“Her birthday is August eighth,” Hattie said helpfully, still examining the paper over his shoulder. “Look, there, she’s a Leo.”
“Right. I’m in April, I'm an Aries. We both have our sun in fire signs, Cecilia.” He gave her a hopeful smile, but she just glared at him stonily.
“Did you go through all of that just to tell Cecilia that your sun signs are compatible?” Siobhan asked, rolling her eyes.
Reid gave her a dirty look. “No,” he said sourly, though he obviously had. “It’s Divination homework. I have to draw up someone else’s natal chart so I can make up some predictions. I’ve already done my own, look.”
“Let me see that,” Cecilia said suddenly, reaching across Hattie and Petula to snatch the sheet of parchment with Reid’s natal chart away from him. “What house do ‘attacks with fireworks’ fall under?”
Siobhan grinned at her, and Arthur had to cough to hide his chuckle.
Reid grabbed the chart back, trying not to look annoyed. “Who wants theirs done, then?”
“You can do mine,” Hattie said.
Reid looked a little disappointed, but he took down Hattie’s birth details anyway, glancing up occasionally at Cecilia as he wrote. He had obviously been hoping that he could draw up Cecilia’s chart and try to convince her that their astrological signs meant they should be together.
Arthur bent over his breakfast again, trying not to laugh at Reid’s transparent and unsuccessful overtures to Cecilia. He glanced over at Molly, who was also carefully looking away from Reid. She glanced over at him and met his eyes, and they grinned at each other.
Reid seemed not to have taken his break-up with Gemma too hard, Arthur reflected, which wasn't entirely surprising since he had been stalking Cecilia the entire time he'd been with Gemma. They hadn't talked about his feelings for Gemma, of course, because that was the sort of thing that girls did, but Arthur had gotten the impression Reid was really only hoping to make Cecilia jealous. That plan seemed to have failed spectacularly. She'd gotten a really evil pleasure out of Reid's break-up, and Arthur rather thought she enjoyed seeing him miserable.
Arthur was still feeling quite expansive about his own reconciliation with Molly, and found himself hoping for an eventual rapprochement between Reid and Cecilia as well, if only for the sake of his mate's quickly diminishing sanity.
Cecilia flipped her hair over her shoulder and said in an airy voice to no one in particular, “I've always thought Divination was a very woolly class. Padding one's schedule, hoping for an easy E.”
“That's Muggle Studies you're thinking of,” Reid snapped. “Everyone knows Muggle Studies is for duffers.”
Arthur frowned at his friend. “Oi, there,” he began.
“I don't take Muggle Studies,” Cecilia said, and though she was looking at Siobhan, it was clearly directed at Reid. “Some people must have me confused with someone else. I know some people really don't know anything about me.”
Reid looked as if he would dearly love to strangle Cecilia. Petula was watching them in fascination, her eyes flickering back and forth between them and a smile playing about her lips. Her novel was still propped up in front of her, forgotten now. She did not appear at all bothered about Reid's Muggle Studies remark.
“And what about people who take eleven N.E.W.T.s, Cecilia?” she asked. “What do you think of them?”
“Show-offs,” Cecilia sniffed haughtily.
Hattie seemed a little horrified at the direction the conversation had taken, and she looked as if she wanted to interject, but before she could say anything, Siobhan let out a loud sigh and banged her goblet against the table, startling Reid and Cecilia, who had been scowling at each other intently.
“You both need to shut up, you sound like idiots. Reid, it's bloody marvellous that you're doing eleven N.E.W.T.s, we're all so impressed we can hardly sit still for the overwhelming excitement. Cecilia, you're so much better than Reid, it's amazing you can even exist on the same plane as him. I'm shocked you haven't ascended to a higher level of being, you're just that bloody mature and talented and all that rot. Molly was right, you know, you're a damned hypocrite. And Reid, if you'd stop acting like a complete ass for more than two minutes, you might find some people think you're less of a pigheaded idiot.”
There was a long silence after this, while Reid flushed a deep red and Cecilia stared at her best friend as if she'd been slapped. Cosmo continued eating as if he hadn't heard a word. Arthur glanced at Molly. She looked a little surprised and uncomfortable, and he wondered what sorts of things the Gryffindor girls talked about in private that led to accusations of hypocrisy.
“Language, Siobhan,” Molly murmured finally.
“Why am I suddenly the one who has to break things up? Isn't that Hattie's job? I'm going to go snog someone, I believe that's my role.” Siobhan pushed away from the table as she stood, and sauntered down to where the Gryffindor seventh-years sat. Andrew Bishop smiled at her in welcome as she took the seat next to him.
“Now that's a show-off,” Reid said admiringly.
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