Chapter 29 : I Second That Emotion
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Oh, but if you feel like loving me
If you got the notion
I second that emotion
It was quite good to be of age finally, Arthur thought happily. His birthday haul this year had been good. Of course he was pleased with the jumper, because Molly had made it with her own hands, and it fit him perfectly. It was in Gryffindor colours too, red with a yellow “A” on the front. And the watch from his parents was a very nice watch. However, he couldn't help being much more excited about the gift from Gideon and Fabian Prewett. His other gifts, even the book of photos of Muggle motorcycle engines from his brother Bilius, paled in comparison to the twins' gift.
Batteries! And a plug as well! It was quite possibly the best birthday present he'd ever received. Molly had not seemed terribly impressed by them, but he knew she wasn't particularly interested in Muggle artefacts. Not many people liked Muggles as much as he did, though, so he wasn't worried about this, and the batteries were so amazing he didn't even mind that Molly had only given them a slightly suspicious look. He couldn't imagine where the twins had found them.
He had never seen them before in real life, only drawings and a hazy Muggle photograph in a book. Muggles seemed to take them quite for granted, but they were really fascinating. He had them on his bedside table where he could marvel over them every night, and poke at them in hopes of feeling some electricity (which he still had trouble pronouncing, it was such a strange word). He knew they wouldn't do anything, of course, because Muggle devices never worked in Hogwarts, more's the pity, but he still examined them and debated disassembling one of the batteries to see what was inside it. The warning label on the battery stopped him, however. He didn't know what acid was, but it was apparently inside the batteries and was quite dangerous. He made a mental note to ask his Muggle Studies professor about battery acid.
Gideon and Fabian poked their heads into his dormitory the day after his birthday, as he was getting ready for breakfast, and waved hello as they came in. The jumper from Molly was laid out on his bed, and the twins' eyes seemed to home in on it instantly. They examined it closely while Arthur tied his shoes.
“Molly knitted that for you, didn't she?”
“It's really quite horrifying, isn't it?” Gideon said dispassionately. “We told her to stop while she was ahead, with socks and scarves, but obviously she's lost her mind completely.”
“It was bound to happen sooner or later. And an A for Arthur as well. You poor sod,” Fabian added to Arthur in commiseration. “You're going to have to wear it now, you know.”
Arthur laughed. “It's not that bad. I'll wear it, I don't mind.”
The twins shook their heads at him sorrowfully.
“I think he's a lost cause, Gideon.”
“I think you're right, Fabian.”
They turned as one and walked away. Arthur rolled his eyes and pulled the jumper on over his head.
He should have guessed based on the twins' reaction to the jumper how his friends would see it. He was, for once, the last one of his friends down to breakfast, and Dunstan let out a loud guffaw when Arthur joined them at the table.
“What are you wearing?” he asked, grinning widely.
“Shut it, Dunstan.” Arthur scooped scrambled eggs onto his plate.
Reid was staring at the jumper in fascination. “Is that an A for Arthur, or an A for -”
“The girls are coming,” Cosmo interrupted.
“Molly made it for me,” Arthur said in a low voice to his friends. “Shut up about it or I'll hex you, all right?”
“Get a girlfriend and suddenly you're hexing your mates left and right,” Reid said with mock sadness.
Dunstan looked as if he would very much like to continue making fun of Arthur, but he caught sight of Molly and her friends, and bent over his breakfast to hide his grin.
Molly plopped into the seat next to Arthur and gave him a peck on the cheek. “Good morning. Good morning Reid, Dunstan, Cosmo.”
“Morning Molly,” Cosmo said. Reid smiled at her and Dunstan let out a muffled snort of laughter which Molly did not appear to notice. Arthur shot him a warning look as Molly's friends took their seats.
Arthur eyed Reid and Cecilia warily. They had not been at table together since Siobhan had told them both off, and they had not said a word to each other in class since then, but Cecilia was not sneering now as she sat on the opposite end of the table from Reid, and Reid was not staring at her chest. Arthur had rather been expecting an explosive row.
Siobhan was buttering a piece of toast next to Cecilia, looking completely unconcerned and unsurprised by the development, but Hattie and Molly both seemed to be watching Cecilia as if she were ill. No one remarked on any of this, or on Arthur's jumper, and the rest of the breakfast conversation was monopolized by Petula, who had failed her last Transfiguration essay, and spent the entire meal railing against Professor McGonagall, whom she believed to be harbouring a grudge against her, while Dunstan occasionally sniggered into his breakfast cereal when he caught sight of the A on Arthur's jumper.
He walked Molly to class after breakfast, and they stopped outside the Arithmancy classroom for a few moments. Molly stood wrapped inside his cloak, smiling at him softly, while he played with her fingertips.
“This weekend is the Hogsmeade Valentine's visit,” Molly said.
“Oh.” He let go of her fingers, and she flattened her hand against his chest. “Would you like to go into town together, then?”
“Of course. It's our first Valentine's together,” she said, and he wondered if he should worry about that.
“I've never had a girlfriend on Valentine's Day before,” he admitted.
Molly smiled and leaned up to kiss him. “We'll just have lunch at the Three Broomsticks. We're both of age now, we can even order a firewhisky.”
Arthur chuckled, and she stepped out of his arms.
“I'd better get to class. You should too.”
He had about two minutes to get to class, but he took a few seconds to kiss her again before jogging away down the corridor. He made it to History of Magic just after the bell sounded, but Professor Binns did not notice him slipping in.
Reid was sitting at their usual desk with his chin propped up on his hand. He had bewitched his quill to take notes for him and was staring off into space.
“All right there, Arthur,” he said in a low voice as Arthur slid into his seat.
“You're late. Snogging Molly in the halls?”
“Shut up, Reid.” Arthur pulled his quill and some parchment out of his bag and Reid pointed his wand at it so that Arthur's quill jumped to attention and started copying down Professor Binns' lecture as well.
“Hangman?” Reid had already doodled a hangman game onto a spare piece of parchment.
“All right, but no ancient runes, only English.”
“You're no fun, Arthur.”
The atmosphere among the girls in the castle seemed to be very tense as the week wore on, thanks to the Valentine's Day Hogsmeade weekend. Everywhere Arthur turned it seemed small crowds of girls were discussing Valentine's Day, with whom they were going to Hogsmeade, and what they planned to do there. It seemed to be very important to them. He was relieved to find that Molly did not seem to be obsessing over the weekend. If anything, she had a slightly smug expression when anyone mentioned it.
“You're lucky to have a boyfriend already, Molly,” Petula said at dinner on Thursday.
Molly smiled at her friend. “Why don't you go with Dunstan?”
Petula glanced over her shoulder, but Dunstan had not yet come down from Gryffindor Tower. “I don't really fancy him. But it's too late now to get someone better, so I suppose I may as well.”
Arthur coughed to try to hide a laugh. This really made the weekend even better. Dunstan had still not lost interest in Petula, who never had given him a response when he asked her out. Arthur thought having to wait two months for her to say yes would probably be good for his friend. It was definitely good for everyone else, if only for entertainment purposes.
“Don't tell him I said that, Arthur,” Petula said then, looking alarmed.
“I won't,” he assured her.
Cecilia was sitting down the table with Siobhan and the seventh-year Gryffindors, next to Icarus Teague, who played Keeper for the Gryffindor team and was one of Andrew Bishop's friends. Cecilia was sitting very close to him. Siobhan waved to him when she caught Arthur looking at them, and he smiled at her.
Reid arrived a little while later, and stopped short when he saw Cecilia sitting with Icarus. He stood next to the table, staring blankly at them for a moment, until Arthur tugged on his robes. Reid sat down abruptly, looking stunned.
“What's that about?” he asked.
Hattie and Molly exchanged a glance. This did not look good for Reid, Arthur reflected.
“Icarus asked her out a few days ago. They're going to Hogsmeade together this weekend,” Molly said, while Hattie gave Reid a sympathetic nod, both looking as if they had just delivered news of the death of a relative.
“She's going with him? Really?” Reid looked back at Cecilia, and she glanced over her shoulder as if she could feel his eyes on her. Arthur expected her to turn away with a flip of her hair and a scowl, but instead she gave Reid a tiny, almost apologetic smile and then turned back to Icarus.
Everyone was looking at Reid. He looked at Cecilia for a moment longer with a blank expression, then turned his attention to the shepherd’s pie on the table.
“Good for her,” he said.
This was apparently not the reaction anybody had expected. Cosmo, who had been silently shovelling food into his mouth during the conversation, paused in mid-chew to stare at Reid, his fork still hovering in the air in front of him. Petula's eyes were wide, and Hattie looked as if she were concerned for Reid's sanity.
“Pod people,” she murmured, but Arthur did not know what that meant. Molly giggled; apparently she did know.
Dunstan turned up then, and took in the weird tension at the table as he sat down. “What's going on, eh? What did I miss?”
“Cecilia is going out with Icarus Teague,” Reid said calmly, pouring himself some pumpkin juice.
“Oh.” Dunstan craned his neck to get a good look at them. “He's a good Keeper. I heard he's going to be signed to Puddlemere United when he leaves school. How come you're not doing your nut over this, Reid?”
Reid shrugged and took a bite.
“Petula, are you going with me to Hogsmeade or not?” Dunstan demanded, grabbing a roll off the serving platter.
“Sure,” she said, shrugging.
“Good. Reid, you should take Hattie.”
Reid looked at Hattie, and she raised her eyebrows. “I'm going with Silvester Bowbrick,” she said.
“I have too much homework to do anyway,” Reid said. “I'm not going.”
“But it's Valentine's Day,” Petula exclaimed.
“My mum says Valentine's Day was invented by Hallmark to sell cards,” Cosmo said around a mouthful of shepherd’s pie.
Hattie frowned at him in disgust. “So you're not going either?”
“Yeah I am, I'm taking Maribel McQuillen. Just cause it's a made-up holiday doesn't mean you can't have some fun.”
Reid nodded agreement as he took a bite of pie.
Arthur spent that evening on the sofa in front of the fire in Gryffindor Tower with Molly curled up against him. She had her Arithmancy textbook open, and he'd tried to read over her shoulder for a moment, but the diagrams were completely alien to him, so he went back to his History of Magic notes, which he now had to read because he'd spent the class playing hangman with Reid instead of paying attention.
Petula was stretched out on the floor in front of the sofa, writing an essay for Charms. Apparently it was not coming along well, because occasionally she would scratch out a sentence rather forcefully. It was hard to concentrate with the loud scratching of Petula's quill and her angry huffs, and eventually he just sat with his book open and watched Molly. His gaze fell, quite involuntarily, to her chest, and he realized something looked very familiar about the jumper she was wearing. It was too big for her, though she filled it out quite nicely, but the sleeves were clearly too long: she had rolled them up to make them fit. She glanced up and noticed him watching her, and gave him an expectant look.
“Is that my jumper?” he asked.
Molly turned bright red and Petula started giggling quietly, keeping her head down over her homework.
“Erm... yes?” Molly said nervously.
“How did you get one of my jumpers?”
Petula's giggling got a little louder. Apparently she already knew about this. Arthur wasn't upset, in fact he quite liked the idea of her wearing his jumper, for some reason he didn't quite want to articulate, but he was curious how she'd gotten hold of it without his noticing. If any of his friends had caught her in the boys' dormitory, he would have never heard the end of it.
“Well,” Molly said, and he could see her hand twitching a bit and knew she wanted to chew on her fingernail, as she did when she was thinking hard or feeling nervous. “I needed to borrow it so I could make your birthday jumper, and I sort of... forgot to give it back.”
“You stole my jumper,” he said, grinning.
“I didn't mean to. I meant to put it back. You're not upset, are you?” She looked a little anxious, though he thought it was rather obvious that he wasn't upset about it.
“No. You can keep it, if you like. How did you get it out of my dormitory?”
“Gideon and Fabian stole it for me.”
Arthur laughed. Petula was still giggling quietly, and snuck a glance up at them. Molly cast around for a change of subject.
“So... Cecilia and Icarus Teague, eh?”
Arthur grinned but went along with her. “Yeah, Cecilia and Icarus. I didn't see that one coming.”
“I did,” Petula said, not looking up from her homework. “He's a friend of Andrew's, he's very cute, he plays Quidditch, and Siobhan's been pestering Cecilia since last year to let her set her up with someone. Cecilia always said she doesn't have time for boys because she's a prefect, but I suppose she has time now.”
“It's an odd name, isn't it?” Molly said thoughtfully. “You don't hear it much. Icarus. Wasn't he a wizard in ancient Greece?”
“I kind of like it, actually,” Petula said. “It sounds exotic. Romantic.”
“I do too,” Arthur admitted, though he wasn't sure about the romanticism of it.
“I am not naming our children anything odd like that,” Molly said firmly, giving Arthur’s knee a pat. “I like solid, traditional English names, like Charles and Mary.”
Arthur turned to stare at her, dumbfounded. “Our children?” he repeated.
Molly flushed a brilliant shade of red, her eyes wide, as she appeared to register what she’d said. “Oh, bugger.”
Petula was grinning at them rather annoyingly. “Language, Molly.”
“Are you planning to have children with me, then?” Arthur asked, feeling rather light-headed.
Molly still looked highly embarrassed and did not meet his eyes, but a feeling of euphoria was rushing through Arthur, and he couldn’t help grinning wildly. Perhaps some of those fantasies of Molly as his wife weren’t quite so far-fetched after all. She was wearing his jumper and talking about what to name their children. It was almost too good to be true.
He leaned down and kissed her firmly on the lips, feeling more satisfied with life than he could remember. Molly seemed a bit stiff as Petula went, chuckling, back to her essay. She sat with her book clutched a little too firmly on her lap, though she was still curled into the crook of Arthur’s arm.
Arthur bent his head so he could whisper in her ear. “I’ll tell you a secret.”
Molly looked up at him with those bright brown eyes, and she looked rather apprehensive. “What?”
He got even closer this time, so he could see the strands of her hair moving with his breath, and caught the floral scent of her perfume. “I’ve thought about having children with you, too. And I like you wearing my jumper.”
Molly’s face reddened again, but a tiny shiver went down her back, and she relaxed back into him this time. Arthur gave her a little squeeze, and Petula chuckled from down on the floor.
"You're on a roll tonight, Molly," she said.
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