Chapter 33 : For Your Love
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I'd give the moon if it were mine to give
For your love.
I'd give the stars and the sun for I live
For your love.
The last day of school before the Easter holiday was notable primarily for the fact that 'I love you Cecilia Fletcher' was written in red letters all around the common room walls when everyone came down from their dormitories for breakfast. Reid seemed quite pleased with himself, but Cecilia had been horribly embarrassed when she saw it and Icarus Teague looked as if he might take a beater's bat to Reid. Cecilia took ten points from Gryffindor for Reid's graffiti, and while he didn't seem to mind this, he got some ugly looks from the other Gryffindors for the rest of the day.
Cecilia and Icarus spent most of the afternoon rowing as quietly as possible in one corner of the common room. Arthur sat at a table with Molly, Hattie, and Cosmo, playing a game of Exploding Snap and watching Cecilia surreptitiously.
“If he thought this was going to get him on Cecilia's good side, he was very wrong,” Hattie said, glancing over at them with a frown. “She's only going to hate him more. Arthur, can't you have a word with him? You have no idea what it's like living with Cecilia when she's angry all the time.”
Arthur sat back in his chair and rubbed his eyes, knocking his glasses askew and then resettling them in place. “I've been trying to tell him all year to give up. I don't know if you've noticed, but Reid's a little stubborn.”
“That ram Patronus was very apt for him,” Molly agreed.
“He swears she's really in love with him,” Cosmo said doubtfully, glancing over to where Cecilia, red-faced, was whispering something heated to a surly-looking Icarus.
“He's been delusional for a long time,” Arthur said.
Molly giggled, and as she glanced over at Cecilia and Icarus, Arthur smiled and thought about how much fun the Easter holiday was going to be. He could Apparate legally now, he didn't need Bilius's help to get to Molly, and he planned to visit her every day. Possibly every night, too. He wondered if he could get away with Apparating directly into her bedroom, or if her parents had any anti-Apparition wards on the house.
Hattie was watching him. “Now there's a wicked little grin,” she said slyly. “Whatever are you thinking about, Arthur?”
Molly turned back to him and he knew his ears were going red. She shot him a look that said she knew exactly what he'd been thinking about, and then grinned at him.
“Knock it off,” Cosmo said. “No mooning over each other in the middle of a game.” He set a card down carefully and then grinned at them. “On second thought, keep it up – when you're distracted, I start winning.”
The cards exploded then with a loud bang, and they all jumped back away from the table.
Once again Arthur found himself stumbling off the Knight Bus and wishing he hadn't eaten anything before boarding it. His mother was waiting at the front door for him, and wrapped him in a hug as soon as he got close.
“There's my baby,” she said happily, and reached up to take his chin in one hand and give him a kiss.
“I'm not a baby, Mum,” he said, extricating himself from her grasp.
“You're my baby. When you were three, you would sometimes ask me to hold you like a baby.” Cedrella led him into the house with a reminiscent smile, looking misty-eyed. “You were so sweet. Of course you still are, my little love.” She patted his cheek.
Arthur gave his mother a mildly horrified look. He sincerely hoped she would restrain herself from making remarks like that in front of Molly, and set about reminding her that he was too old for that sort of thing. “Mum, I'm of age now, I'm a grown man.”
She heaved a sigh but did not argue with that description. “Are you hungry, dear? I've got lunch on the table already.”
He followed her into the kitchen, where Bilius was hunched over a bowl of soup and his father was hiding behind The Daily Prophet.
“Arthur's home!” his mother sang out as Arthur dropped into a chair.
His father twitched aside a corner of the paper and peered at him. “Afternoon, son.”
“Hi Dad.” His mother set a bowl of soup and a thick slice of bread in front of him, and Arthur dug in hungrily.
Bilius dipped a piece of bread into his soup and took a large bite, mumbling, “Hi Arthur.”
“Hi,” he said, looking at the paper in front of Bilius. It was advertisements for employment. “Haven't you got a job yet?” Arthur asked his brother.
“It's a bad economy right now, all right?” Bilius shot a sidelong glance at their mother. “It's not like I'm not trying.” I'm really not trying, he mouthed at Arthur then, and Arthur snorted into his soup.
“Try harder,” Septimus said from behind his newspaper.
Bilius gave his father a nasty glare.
“Oh, I'm so excited to meet your girlfriend, Arthur,” his mum said fondly, ruffling his hair.
Arthur smoothed his hair down again with one hand and said, “She's very eager to meet you too, Mum.”
“I'm sure she's a very sweet girl. Your father can't wait to meet her too, he's been talking about it all month.”
Arthur eyed his father. Septimus set his newspaper down but did not look up; he was concentrating on trying to get his pipe lit.
“Who am I meeting?” he asked absently, tapping some ash out of the pipe and then sucking on the stem.
“Arthur's girlfriend,” his wife reminded him.
“Oh yes,” Septimus said between puffs on his pipe. “What's her name again?”
“Molly Prewett,” Arthur said.
“I'm sure your mother mentioned it to me before,” Septimus said, disappearing behind his newspaper again. Puffs of smoke rose from behind it and began to curl into what looked like Ukrainian Ironbellies.
“She's pretty,” Bilius said. “And she's got really nice-” He appeared to think better of finishing this sentence and closed his mouth firmly, and Arthur glared at his brother and wished that over Christmas his girlfriend had worn a nightdress with a neckline that reached to her throat.
“Really nice what?” Cedrella demanded. “How do you know? You haven't met her.”
“Erm, manners,” Bilius said, looking shifty. “Really nice manners. Arthur told me about her.”
“Oh.” Cedrella gave her sons a misty smile. “I'm so glad you boys are still close. It's very sweet of you.” She turned back to the stove, and Bilius rolled his eyes.
It was awfully nice of his brother to keep their nighttime excursion to Molly's house a secret, Arthur thought. Undoubtedly this was partly because Bilius was likely to get in trouble for it as well, but still, it made him feel quite fond of his brother, even though he'd apparently been looking at parts of her body that Arthur did not want anyone else, particularly his brother, looking at.
Arthur frowned at his elder brother, and Bilius gave him an innocent smile and went back to his soup.
That evening, after finally escaping from his mother's rehashing of little Basil Weasley's birth and a seemingly unending book of nearly identical photographs of his infant nephew lying on a blanket and blinking or crying at the camera, Arthur retreated to his room. He waited until his parents had gone to bed and the house had settled into its nightly silence before creeping out of his room and out into the front yard. He opened the front gate and turned to look up at the dark house. Even Bilius's window was dark; his brother must have gone to bed at a reasonable hour for once.
It was almost too easy to sneak out. He'd never really tried before. That was probably why his parents weren't particularly vigilant after dark. There was something disquieting about that in these increasingly dangerous times, but at the moment, he was going to use it to his advantage.
He spun on the spot and Disapparated.
He stumbled a bit as his feet touched solid ground again; he wasn't used to his newly licensed ability just yet. Still, his first time Apparating without any supervision had gone well, and he set off into Molly's yard feeling quite pleased with himself.
Molly's windows were dark, but fortunately, so were all the other windows in the house. With any luck, her parents were sound asleep. He had just looked down to find a pebble in the flowerbeds to toss at her window when he saw the back door open. He hurried over, and Molly smiled in welcome as he wrapped her in his arms. She was holding a fluffy knitted afghan and a bottle of wine, wearing what appeared to be a hand-knitted jumper. He was a little disappointed not to get another peek at the low-cut nightgown.
“I thought you'd be here earlier,” she whispered, stroking his face with one hand. “Everyone's been in bed for an hour already.”
“My parents went to bed late,” he said, and kissed her.
“Let's go up to the orchard, I don't want to wake anyone.” Molly pulled the door closed behind her and they set off into the chilly, early spring night, wrapped together in the warmth of Arthur's school cloak.
Molly lit her wand and led the way through the dark trees. The moon was bright and round in the cloudless sky, and it was just cold enough to see their breath on the air.
Arthur looked around as they walked deeper into the orchard. The trees were a little eerie in the darkness, but there was enough space between them to allow the moon to bathe them in a silvery glow. He thought he knew why Molly had taken him here: the light was very romantic, and it was nicely obscured from sight of the house by the trees.
She chose a spot under a plum tree that was just starting to flower and spread out the afghan. Arthur stretched out happily beneath the tree, and looked up at the stars with Molly snuggled up beside him, his cloak spread over them like a blanket, the wine forgotten on the edge of the blanket.
“I'm glad you came tonight,” she said, her fingers lightly tracing circles on his chest. “I was getting lonely.”
They'd seen each other only that morning before leaving school, so Arthur was quite pleased to hear that. “I missed you too,” he told her, dropping a kiss onto the top of her head.
She changed position a bit so she was lying even closer to him, folding her hands together on his chest and resting her chin on them, and he could feel the warmth of her body. He had to concentrate to what she said next, since she was pressed up against him in a very distracting manner.
“We shouldn't stay too long, though. It's already well after midnight.”
“We don't have anything to do tomorrow,” he pointed out. “You can sleep as late as you like.”
“I'm sorry, I was under the impression you had met my mother,” she said dryly, rolling her eyes. “She'll have me up and helping her with chores first thing in the morning.”
“Charm your door shut,” he said, pulling her a bit closer so he could kiss her.
Molly laughed and kissed him back. “I think you're having a bad influence on me now, as well.”
“I sincerely hope so.” Arthur said, and grabbed her tightly, rolling her over onto her back so he was leaning over her.
Molly looked a little surprised at that, but she wrapped her arms around his neck and let him kiss her again.
“We should go in soon,” she murmured a while later, while he was kissing her neck gently. “It's getting cold.”
“I'll keep you warm.”
“Oh, Arthur,” she sighed, and didn't mention going in again.
It was another hour before they remembered the wine. Arthur managed to open the bottle while Molly straightened her jumper and then conjured two wineglasses.
He thought that drinking the wine would put her in a romantic mood, but apparently she went through a slightly combative phase first. She argued with him over the constellations as they looked up at the sky, and he wasn't sure whether she had simply not paid close attention in Astronomy or whether the wine was fogging her up a bit, but she kept naming them incorrectly and then trying to debate him when he corrected her.
“That's Monoceros,” she said confidently, pointing up overhead.
“I believe that's Perseus, actually,” Arthur said, trying not to laugh.
“No, that's Perseus,” she said, pointing at Virgo.
This time Arthur did laugh.
“What?” She eyed him suspiciously.
“That's Virgo, that's Perseus, and Monoceros is way over there. See, it's almost gone, it fades out quite soon and we won't see it again until November.”
Molly followed where he was pointing and squinted up at the stars in silence for a moment, then said, “Oh. I suppose you're right.”
Arthur grinned at her, feeling slightly elated. He thought that might be the first time she'd ever said that to him. It was a small victory, and perhaps the wine made him feel more cheerful about it, but he was quite pleased nonetheless, and gave her a quick kiss.
“But that,” she said, pointing up at a cluster of stars, “is definitely Hydra.”
Arthur looked up at the stars she was pointing at and saw Cygnus, and decided he'd won enough for the night. “If you say so, Molly,” he said with a glance at his watch. “We really should get inside this time,” he added reluctantly.
“It's not that late,” Molly said quickly. “What time is it?”
“Two in the morning.”
She looked disappointed. “Oh. You're right, we should go in.” She drained the last of her wine and then looked up at him hopefully. “One more glass?”
“All right, but the bottle's almost empty,” he pointed out.
“Oh, that's no problem.” Molly pointed her wand at the bottle, and it immediately refilled itself.
Arthur poured them both another glass. “I didn't know you could do that.”
“I'm very good at household spells,” she said smugly, and he laughed.
They huddled together under Arthur's cloak, drinking wine as they talked and laughed. The more they drank, the more refilling the bottle again sounded like a good idea, and after the second time Molly cast the spell, Arthur realized she was holding her wand a little unsteadily. He was feeling a little unsteady himself.
“I think you've had enough,” he said, taking the wineglass from her. “Your parents will kill me if they catch us together while you're tipsy.”
“I like being tipsy,” she said, laying back on the blanket and smiling up at him drowsily. “Kiss me, Arthur.”
He laughed as he looked down at her. Her lips were stained a bit from the red wine, her eyes unfocused and cheeks flushed. She looked very pretty, and very drunk. “You've definitely had enough.”
Molly's eyes fluttered shut. Arthur gave her a little nudge. “I'd better get you to bed, young lady,” he said playfully.
“You can take me to bed right here,” Molly murmured, her eyes still closed.
Arthur felt his ears turn red and stared at her in surprise, wondering if she'd meant that the way it sounded, but before he could think of a response, she let out a little snore. He contemplated her in silence for a moment. She looked adorable, sleeping peacefully on the colourful afghan, and he wondered if she would remember that little remark in the morning. He wished he could curl up next to her and sleep by her side. The idea of sleeping curled up next to Molly was very appealing, but their parents would definitely catch them then, and her father would probably kill him. Her mother would undoubtedly kill both of them. He set about waking her back up then.
Arthur trudged up the stairs to his room, feeling a little drunk and very happy, and ran into his brother on the landing. Bilius was wide awake and still dressed in the same clothes he'd worn earlier that day.
“It's three o'clock in the morning,” Bilius said in surprise. “What the hell are you doing up?”
“What are you doing up?”
“None of your business,” Bilius retorted immediately, then leaned forward slightly to sniff his brother. “Why do you smell like wine?”
“I was with Molly,” Arthur said smugly, and put a hand on his brother's shoulder. “And you're right, she does have really nice-” He let his voice cut off abruptly just as Bilius had done that afternoon.
Bilius's eyebrows went up. “Oh yeah? What, haven't you gotten at them before tonight?”
“Mind your own business.”
“You brought them up.”
Arthur blinked at his brother for a moment. “Good night, Bilius.” He went into his room and shut the door.
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