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Chapter 30 : Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me
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Thrill me, thrill me,
Walk me down the lane where shadows will be, will be
Hiding lovers just the same as we’ll be, we’ll be,
When you make me tell you I love you.
Molly was quite happy to have someone to spend Valentine's Day with. She hadn't had a boyfriend over this holiday since fourth year, when she'd briefly gone out with Kester McCulloch of Ravenclaw. He was a nice boy, but nobody compared to Arthur. She was excited for their first Valentine's Day, but mostly she was feeling quite relaxed and happy about the weekend. It was a lovely feeling to know that she had someone who loved her, and that even if all they did was sit in the Three Broomsticks drinking butterbeer, she would still remember it as a beautiful day with the boy she loved.
“It's going to be a wonderful Valentine's Day” said Hattie, twirling around in front of the mirror as they were all getting dressed for the day. “Not like last year. This year we've all got dates.”
Molly smiled nostalgically at her friend. Last year they'd all spent Valentine's Day holed up in their dormitory, trying unsuccessfully to find a way to save Cecilia's scorched hair. Cecilia had worn a hat for weeks afterwards. It had been a great sacrifice for Hattie, who adored Valentine's Day and had had plans to spend it with Walter Campbell in Madam Puddifoot's, a new teashop that had just opened and was quite horrifyingly decorated entirely in pink ruffles and pink china tea sets, but Hattie loved that sort of thing. Walter had gone with Claudia Patterson instead, and he and Hattie had never gotten back together.
“Icarus is such a nice boy,” Hattie said to Cecilia, who was scooping her hair up into a ponytail. Cecilia smiled serenely around the rubber band in her mouth.
Siobhan rolled her eyes. “It's just a stupid holiday, Hattie.”
“You only say that because you have no sense of romance.”
“I've got plenty of romance,” Siobhan said. “I ooze romance.”
“You ooze something, that's for sure, but I don't know if it's romance,” Cecilia said around the rubber band. Siobhan grinned at her.
Hattie ignored them. “It's going to be wonderful,” she repeated determinedly.
The wonderful seemed to have worn off Hattie by the end of the day, however, as first Professor Arccos then Professor McGonagall loaded them down with homework. Petula became nearly hysterical over receiving a P on her Transfiguration essay, and had to go to the hospital wing for a calming draught.
When Molly returned to Gryffindor Tower, Hattie was sitting on the sofa in front of the fire, grumbling under her breath as she sorted through a stack of notes.
“You might as well stop here, Molly,” she said when she caught sight of her. “We're not going to be going anywhere tonight.”
“We can save some for Sunday,” Molly said half-heartedly, sitting down next to Hattie and setting her bookbag on the floor.
“You know I like to get homework done straight away.” Hattie picked up her Transfiguration textbook and paged through it for a moment while Molly pulled out her own notes, then set it down in her lap and leaned over to her best friend, looking worried. “I've never been out with Silvester before. What if it doesn't go well?”
“I thought you said everything will be wonderful.”
“Yes, but if it's not, we need a back-up plan. We'll meet up somewhere and if it's not going well, I'll make up an excuse and go off with you.”
Molly smiled. “All right. He's very nice though, I don't think you'll need an escape route.”
Petula dropped into the chair beside them just then and threw her bookbag onto the floor, looking slightly calmer than she had before she'd gone to the hospital wing, but not by much. “I give up. I'm never going to pass Transfiguration. Can I copy your homework?”
Hattie sighed but took pity on her. “Only if you help out a bit.”
They spent the next two hours working on Transfiguration, until Arthur came to fetch Molly for dinner. Petula stood immediately, but Hattie looked at her stack of notes and books and let out a loud sigh, clearly torn between her love of food and her desire to complete her homework before Valentine's Day.
“You won't be able to concentrate if you're hungry,” Molly told her.
Hattie was still staring at her homework, frowning uncertainly. “You're right, of course, I just know I won't be able to enjoy myself tomorrow if I have this hanging over my head.”
“I think it's chocolate gateau for dessert tonight,” Arthur said.
Hattie stood immediately and started shooing them toward the portrait hole. “Quickly, quickly, let's not be late for dinner.”
“What about your homework?” Petula asked as she was hustled along by Hattie.
“Petula, so help me, if you make me miss chocolate gateau–”
“All right, all right, I'm going.”
Molly spent dinner alternating between flirting with Arthur, who was wearing his birthday jumper again, and eyeing Cecilia and Icarus, who were sitting down the table and obviously enjoying each other's company a great deal. Cecilia's cheeks were flushed and she looked happy. It occurred to Molly that she hadn't seen Cecilia happy most of the year. Reid was studiously not paying any attention to them, although he had given Cecilia a somewhat wistful glance when he'd first arrived, but he was still maintaining the official stance that he was happy for Cecilia. It seemed unlikely to Molly after the way he'd plagued Cecilia for over a year, but she didn't want to argue with him about it. As Hattie liked to say, it was much nicer when everyone was pleasant to each other.
She remembered Hattie wanted to meet up for an escape plan in case her date went poorly and turned to ask her where she was going in Hogsmeade just as the dessert course appeared on the table. Hattie immediately reached for a large slice of gateau. “Hattie, where-”
“Can't talk,” Hattie said shortly. “Cake.”
Reid was sitting next to her and eyed her plate askance but didn't say anything. The house-elves had decorated the chocolate gateau festively in red and pink hearts and swirls of piped frosting. Hattie was giving it her full attention, and Molly waited a few moments before asking again.
“Where are you lunching tomorrow?”
Hattie swallowed. It generally took only a couple of bites for her to become human again once she'd caught sight of chocolate gateau. She smiled pleasantly at Molly. “Madam Puddifoot's. I love that shop, it's so adorable.”
Molly wrinkled her nose. Hattie was her closest friend, but Hattie's admiration of all things pink and frilly had never rubbed off on her. Molly thought stepping into Madam Puddifoot's was like being in one of the horrible tea cosies her Auntie Muriel favoured. “We're going to the Three Broomsticks.”
“I'm going to Honeydukes after lunch whether Silvester wants to or not,” Hattie said, delicately licking a bit of chocolate frosting off the tines of her fork. “We could meet up there for the back-up plan.”
“What back-up plan?” Arthur wanted to know.
“Never you mind,” Hattie told him.
Reid chuckled. “Poor Silvester. He won't know what hit him. I ought to post a sign that says only Gryffindors can handle the Gryffindor girls.”
Molly expected Hattie to frown at him, but instead she wiggled her eyebrows as she cut into her cake with her fork and said, “You ought to post a sign that says never come between me and chocolate.”
One of Molly's favourite things about Valentine's in Hogsmeade was the romantic atmosphere that seemed to settle over the little town. The people smiled and flirted as they passed on the streets, which seemed to be full of couples holding hands and small clusters of girls giggling together. It felt as if the entire town was looking at each other through rose-coloured glasses.
Arthur had brought her a single red rose that morning at breakfast, which she was pretty sure he'd culled from the rosebushes on the school grounds, but it was a sweet gesture. She gave his hand a squeeze now as they walked down the main street in Hogsmeade, heading for Honeydukes Sweetshop. He smiled down at her and her heart fluttered a little. Valentine's Day always made her a little giddy anyway, and today she felt bouncy with energy.
They wandered through Dervish and Banges, and Molly smiled fondly at the shelves behind which Arthur had kissed her for the first time. She was just thinking of how to subtly nudge Arthur to take her behind the shelves again when she realized the spot was already occupied.
Cecilia and Icarus were tucked into the dark corner behind the shelf of whirring silver objects, wrapped firmly in each other's arms and kissing as if they didn't realize anyone could see them. Molly turned away with a giggle.
Arthur noticed the pair and grinned at Molly. “I suppose they're getting along well.”
Molly rolled her eyes. “For the love. If she caught us doing that, she'd threaten to take points from me.”
“I don't think she would really do it though,” Arthur said, chuckling.
“She took points from Siobhan a few times last year, until she realized it wasn't having any effect,” Molly told him as they left the shop.
"Would taking points have any effect on you?"
She looked over at him for a moment. "No."
It was so cold out that their breath left mist in the air as they spoke, and though Molly was bundled up in her heavy cloak, a hat, scarf, and mittens, she still felt frozen as soon as they stepped outside. They walked down the street to the inn, and Arthur put an arm around her shoulders. She tucked herself up against him as much as she could while still walking, and felt a little warmer. He seemed to be generating heat.
“Where are we going?” Molly asked finally as they walked further from the centre of town.
“Just walking.” He seemed to be enjoying the winter air.
“It's too cold for just walking,” Molly said in exasperation. “My fingers are freezing. My toes are freezing. Let's go back.”
Arthur seemed to think this was funny and grinned at her, but he didn't say anything, leading her on further out of town. She thought he must have a destination in mind, because they seemed to be heading toward Hogsmeade Station and the lake.
They finally stopped on the edge of the lake, and Arthur pulled her close and wrapped his cloak around her. She put her arms around his waist and hugged him, resting her cheek on his chest and looking out at the lake. It was much warmer when she was cuddled up against him.
He seemed content to just hold her, so she looked out at the lake and relaxed. She had to admit the lake looked beautiful with the frost all round the shore. There was no sign of the giant squid, who was probably hiding down at the bottom of the lake until it warmed up again.
They spent some time there on the shore of the lake, wrapped tightly in each other's arms and kissing in the softly falling snow, until Molly decided her toes really were frozen. She pulled away from him, sliding her hands down his arms so she could clasp his hands, and smiled.
“Shall we go to the Three Broomsticks? I could use a butterbeer to warm up.”
The walk back into town seemed much shorter, and soon they were stepping over the threshold of the Three Broomsticks. The inn felt refreshingly warm and cosy after being out in the snow, and it was filled with students who were pink-cheeked from the cold. There was a buzz of excitement in the air, and the inn seemed filled with a roar of noise from all the conversation.
Molly stomped some of the snow from her wellies and followed Arthur to the bar. He ordered hot butterbeer for them and they made their way through the crowd, gingerly holding their drinks, until they found a table that had just been vacated.
Molly drank happily, feeling the butterbeer warm her up, and wiggled her cold toes inside her wellies, wishing she'd worn an extra pair of socks. Arthur was looking around at the crowd as he drank, and she watched him for a moment in profile, thinking how handsome he was and that it was lucky none of their friends were with them to tell her to stop mooning over him. She rather thought mooning over one's boyfriend ought to be allowed on Valentine's Day, of all days.
A flash of familiar blonde hair caught her attention, and she was sure she'd seen Petula through a brief hole in the crowd.
“Is that Petula and Dunstan?” Molly craned her neck to get a better look. “Can you see?” It was too crowded for her to get a good look without standing on her chair. Arthur was taller and could see over most of the crowd. He followed her gaze and nodded.
“Yes, that's them.”
“How does it look? Are they having a good time?” Molly was a little worried about her friend, who did not really fancy her Valentine's date at all. She hoped Petula wasn't being unkind to him. Petula seemed quite inexplicably taken with the idea of having a stalker like Cecilia had with Reid, and Molly didn't want Petula to think she could start behaving the way Cecilia had been.
“It looks like they're not talking. They're just sitting there.”
“Oh dear,” Molly said.
Arthur was still looking around to see who else was there. “There's Andrew and Siobhan. I'm sure I don't need to tell you what they're doing. I thought I saw Cecilia and Icarus but they must have left. I don't see your brothers at all.”
“You won't, either,” Molly said dryly. “They're in detention today. Remember they got a month's worth for blowing up the staircase?”
Arthur looked a little guilty and ducked his head over his butterbeer. She thought he must feel bad that he wasn't in detention with them. She decided she didn't want to think about the staircase incident today, when it was supposed to be a romantic date, and changed the subject.
“What are you doing for Easter break?”
“My family always gets together for Easter Sunday. My mum's making glazed ham and lamb chops, and my brother's bringing his new baby over.”
Molly let out a loud, “Awww!”, clasping her hands at her chest, and a few people turned to look at her. She ignored them and exclaimed, “Oh Arthur, you're an uncle now!”
He grinned, and she was sure he was laughing at her, but she didn't mind. She loved babies. “Would you like to come along?” he asked. “You can meet the baby, and everyone else.”
“D'you think your parents would mind?” she asked uncertainly. She really did want to go, but it was a little unnerving to think of going to Arthur's house for Easter Sunday. She wondered if he'd been nervous to come to her house for dinner on Boxing Day. He probably would have been if he'd known what her parents were like. They could be very embarrassing at times.
“My mum is dying to meet you,” Arthur told her. “She'd love it if you came. Will your parents mind?”
Molly waved a hand dismissively. “Oh, my mum minds everything, but I can get around her. I'd love to come.”
“All right then.” Arthur looked quite pleased. “What about the rest of Easter break?”
“What do you mean?”
“Surely you don't think I'm going to go an entire week without seeing you,” he said, reaching across the table to take her hand. “We'll both be able to Apparate legally by then-”
“If we pass the test,” she reminded him. The Apparition licensing examination was set for the first weekend in March, and most of the sixth-years were buzzing about it, hoping they would pass.
“I'll make sure I pass if it means I can see you over Easter,” Arthur said. He was smiling and rubbing her palm with his thumb, and she smiled as a little shiver went down her back.
Easter was still a month away, but she suddenly found herself looking forward to it greatly.
She could see Petula over Arthur's shoulder now, looking a little harried as she made her way through the crowded pub, coming from the bar. She stopped for a moment as she passed by, a fresh drink in her hand, and leaned down to Molly.
“We don't have anything to say to each other!” Petula whispered through clenched teeth. “Help me!”
“What am I supposed to do?” Molly whispered back.
“I don't know, think of something!” Petula disappeared into the crowd.
“Problems?” Arthur asked with a grin.
“She and Dunstan have run out of conversation,” Molly told him. “She wants me to help her.”
“We could go join them for a bit,” Arthur offered half-heartedly.
Molly frowned. She did not particularly want to spend her Valentine's Day with Petula and Dunstan; she wanted to spend it alone with Arthur. Particularly because she was sure that once they joined their friends, they wouldn't be able to shake them off the rest of the day if they were having a bad time alone. On the other hand, she didn't want to abandon her friend to a date that was clearly not going well.
“I suppose we'd better.”
Arthur took her hand as they made their way over to Petula and Dunstan, who both looked rather bored and uncomfortable.
Petula looked up in relief when she saw them approaching. “Oh thank God! I mean, hello Molly, Arthur.”
Dunstan was eyeing Petula now, looking as if he regretted ever asking her out, and nodded to Arthur briefly.
“Hello Dunstan,” Arthur said cheerfully. “All right there, Petula?”
He gamely made conversation for the next ten minutes, talking Quidditch with Dunstan while Petula rolled her eyes and looked even more bored, and finally Molly couldn't stand it any more and glanced pointedly at her watch.
“We'd better go, Arthur, we said we'd meet Hattie,” she reminded him.
“I'll come with you,” Petula said immediately.
Dunstan didn't stand when they did, and Molly thought he looked rather glad to see the back of Petula. As soon as the three of them were outside, Petula let out a huge gusty sigh.
“For the love,” she said, shaking her head. “I thought I was going to die of boredom. Thanks for rescuing me, Molly.”
Arthur was holding her hand, and Molly smiled at her friend but hoped Petula wasn't going to want to tag along with them the rest of the day. She was relieved when Petula announced she was going to go hide in her dormitory for the rest of the day with a bag of Chocoballs and read a Fifi LaFolle novel. She split off for the castle while Molly and Arthur headed up the street to Honeydukes.
There was no sign of Hattie or Silvester in Honeydukes, so after purchasing a few sweets for themselves, they headed over to Madam Puddifoot's.
“I don't want to go in, I just want to see if Hattie's all right,” Molly said, trying to peer discreetly through the frosted glass window in the front of the tea shop. The filmy pink curtains partially obscured her view, but she could make out a few of the couples. Thad and Cressida were sitting near the window, snuggled up close to each other on a pink pouf, and Cosmo and Maribel McQuillen were sitting with their heads together at a table nearby.
Finally she recognized Hattie's brown curls and the stocky form of Silvester Bowbrick sitting in a back corner. They were kissing and seemed very involved.
“There they are,” said Arthur. He had seen them at the same time she had. “I don't think she wants to be interrupted.”
“Well, I guess she didn't need rescuing after all,” Molly said as they started walking back to the main street.
Arthur chuckled. “I guess not.”
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