Chapter 36 : I Was Made To Love Her
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Cause I was made to love her
Worship and adore her
Ah, I was made to love her
Built my world all around her
“Guess what I heard tonight,” Cosmo said as he plopped down on the rug in front of the empty fireplace. His shirt was unbuttoned enough to show his throat, and his tie was draped around his shoulders. The weather had warmed up quite a bit since May had begun, and most of the students were now wandering around between classes with their shirtsleeves rolled up and collars loosened.
“What did you hear?” Molly asked suspiciously. Arthur glanced at her. He was sure she suspected her brothers of some new mischief, and was briefly thankful that if they were up to anything, they hadn't gotten him involved this time.
“Professor Ampara’s quitting. She isn't coming back next year.” Cosmo surveyed the little group on the sofas for their reactions. Cecilia and Icarus, sitting very close together, looked alarmed, and Petula frowned at him. Siobhan, buried in a large tome about caring for dragons, rolled her eyes.
“Oh no,” Hattie said, looking stricken. “She's my favourite professor!”
Arthur frowned down at Cosmo, who shrugged. Professor Ampara was one of his favourites as well, and he'd be sad to see her go. “Where did you hear that?”
“Maribel heard it from Acacia.” Cosmo glanced over at where a small crowd of fifth-year girls were sitting around a small table, and grinned when Maribel McQuillen waved her fingers at him flirtatiously. “Acacia's dad is a school governor.”
“Well, another one bites the dust, as the Muggles say,” Siobhan remarked.
“The Muggles say that?” Arthur asked keenly.
Siobhan ignored him. “That makes every single year we’ve had a new Defence teacher. Maybe the job really is jinxed.”
“Now I come to think on it, my brother Bilius never had the same Defence teacher twice either,” Arthur said thoughtfully. There had been rumours that the job was jinxed, but he had always discounted them. Still, there had been an unusually high turnover of teachers in the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom.
“It's very strange,” Molly said, sounding worried. “I wonder who'll teach us next year?”
“How they can expect us to pass our N.E.W.T.s when we've always got a new teacher is beyond me,” said Cecilia, sounding a little wild. Icarus patted her knee consolingly.
“Calm down, Cecilia, you've always gotten straight O's.” Hattie was watching Cecilia closely with her brows knit, as if Cecilia were going mad. “You'll do fine on your N.E.W.T.”
“It's not until next year anyway,” said Petula, giving Cecilia a similar look to Hattie's. “Why are you so upset about it? You never worried like this before O.W.L.s and we had a different teacher each year for those.”
“But N.E.W.T.s are so much more important,” Cecilia said, her eyes wide and frantic. “Can you imagine how Transfiguration would go if we didn't have McGonagall every year? We need a steady teacher in Defence!”
Arthur looked a little more closely at Cecilia. Her face was flushed a little blotchily, and her hair wasn't as smooth and glossy as it usually was. He wasn't sure if she hadn't brushed it that day, or if something had happened to muss it up. She didn't seem to be holding up as well to her seven N.E.W.T.s as Reid was to his eleven. Of course, there was also Reid's constant badgering to stress Cecilia... He didn't think he ought to bring that up when Icarus was sitting right next to her.
Molly and Hattie exchanged a concerned glance, and he thought they were probably wondering what was wrong with Cecilia as well.
“Shouldn't you be more concerned with why Professor Ampara is leaving her post than with how it affects you, Cecilia?” Hattie said delicately, her face reproving.
“Of course I'm concerned,” Cecilia snapped. “She's been looking sick for ages. Something's obviously wrong with her. But we have to worry about our marks as well, don't we?”
Hattie did not look convinced of Cecilia's compassion for their teacher, and gave a little sniff as she turned her attention back to her book. No one else remarked on Professor Ampara that evening, and Siobhan kept eyeing Cecilia and Icarus thoughtfully.
The next morning at breakfast, Arthur tried to get a closer look at Professor Ampara, but she wasn't at the staff table. Her empty seat between Professor McGonagall and Professor Slughorn seemed glaringly obvious, though the other professors were eating calmly as if there was nothing amiss. Arthur wondered where she was, and if the teachers weren't worried because they knew she was staying, or because they knew she was leaving. His attention turned then as he heard the rustle of wings flying into the Great Hall with the morning's mail delivery.
Arthur recognized the family owl flying toward him, and realized guiltily that he hadn't written his mum in a couple of weeks. She was probably writing to check up on him, call him an embarrassing pet name, and then talk about how lonely she was when she didn't get letters from him. Sometimes his mother was a little horrifying.
But the owl did not land in front of him. It flapped down next to him, in front of Molly, who smiled happily as she took the letter. Arthur peered over her shoulder; it was, indeed, addressed to her, in his mother's handwriting.
“My mum wrote you a letter?” he said in disbelief.
“Well, I sent her a letter to apologize for mentioning the Blacks,” Molly said in a low voice, and he wondered if she didn't want their friends to know that she'd made a faux pas to his mother, or if she thought he wouldn't want them to know his mother had been disowned by her family. “You really should have mentioned that to me. And she wrote me back, so I wrote her back, and now we're corresponding.”
“You and my mum...”
“Yes, she's very sweet.” Molly opened the letter and started to read while she ate a piece of toast.
“She hasn't written me since Easter,” said Arthur, feeling a little nettled.
“Really?” Molly looked up in surprise. “This is the third letter I've had from her since then.”
“Good Lord.” Arthur didn't know what to say, so he ate a piece of bacon to cover his discomposure, then finally said, “Well, tell her I said hello when you write her back.”
“Of course. I'll remind her she ought to write to you,” Molly said absently, reading the letter.
Arthur shook his head. Girls were very strange.
Arthur spent the evening watching Quidditch practice with Dunstan, Cosmo, and Roddy Feltham. There were a few other Gryffindors in the stands, watching the team practice in hopes that by some miracle they might win all the rest of their Quidditch matches and boost Gryffindor's standing for the House Cup. Based on the evening's practice, it did not look good for Gryffindor.
Roddy left in a temper after practice, swearing about Reid Akins, and Arthur headed toward the castle to look for Molly, who had no interest in Quidditch and never attended practices. He wasn't sure she would even attend the games without him around.
He checked the library first, since it was a favourite haunt of Molly and Hattie in the evenings, but Hattie was there with Silvester Bowbrick, and Arthur didn't want to interrupt them, as they looked quite... busy.
He bumped into Cecilia and Siobhan in the corridor as he was leaving the library.
“Oh, hullo Arthur,” Siobhan said cheerfully.
“Hi Siobhan. I didn't see you at Quidditch practice, Cecilia,” Arthur said. She'd been hanging around the stands the last couple of practices Arthur had been at, watching Icarus and haranguing anyone who made a negative comment about the team, but had been mercifully absent tonight.
“Oh, Cecilia doesn't care about Quidditch any more, she chucked Icarus last night,” Siobhan said slyly.
“You broke up with Icarus?” Arthur was surprised. As far as he'd been aware, Cecilia and Icarus had been happy together. Icarus had certainly been in a good mood lately. But Cecilia's behaviour was growing gradually more erratic, and Arthur was starting to wonder if there was something in the air around the castle that was causing prefects to go insane and teachers to leave their job for no reason. Perhaps Petula was right, the world really was going mad.
“It's a good thing too,” Siobhan said cheerfully, when Cecilia didn't bother to respond. “I could hardly chuck Andrew while you were still going with his best friend, could I? It might have gotten awkward.”
Arthur shook his head. “You've hardly even gone out with Andrew.”
“I've gone with him longer than I went with Addae,” Siobhan pointed out.
“I thought you were with Akwetee?” He couldn't remember now which twin she'd gone out with.
“No, it was Addae.” Siobhan didn't look too certain of that. “But Andrew is boring, he only talks about Quidditch and the stupid parties Claudia throws. All the boys are boring lately. I think I'm done for the year. Maybe the boys will look fresh again after the summer.”
Cecilia rolled her eyes. “You need help.”
“You're the one who can't even be bothered to brush her hair in the morning. Don't think I haven't noticed how you've started to turn into a mad old harpy from all the you know what.”
Cecilia's hand shot to her hair, which was tied up into a messy knot at the top of her head, with three pencils stuck through it carelessly. It seemed very out of character for Cecilia, who was usually very sleek and shiny. She scowled at her best friend. “Shut it, you.”
“Daft crone,” Siobhan retorted.
“Wretched hag,” Cecilia said. “Arthur, where are you going?”
He'd been trying to sneak away surreptitiously. He didn't particularly want to stick around and listen to them argue. They were both staring at him now, Cecilia with her wild dark eyes and Siobhan with one rusty eyebrow arched as if she could not believe he'd tried to walk away while they ignored him.
“I'd better go find Molly,” Arthur said warily.
“I think she went back to the common room.” Cecilia turned back to Siobhan, dismissing him, and Arthur escaped gladly. The sounds of their continued argument floated on the air as he left the corridor.
He had just arrived at the portrait of the Fat Lady when he heard someone calling his name. He turned and saw, his heart sinking a little, Molly's little brothers. The evening was not looking good.
“Arthur, old boy,” Fabian said jovially, sounding quite a lot like Thad Peabody. “What luck. We were just saying how we could use a lookout.” He had a bag slung over his shoulder that had oddly-shaped protrusions.
“What have you got there?” Arthur asked suspiciously, jerking his head toward the bag.
“It's all part of our master plan,” Gideon gave the bag a satisfied pat.
“Good Lord, you're not really going to transform into Professor Dumbledore, are you?” Arthur asked in horror.
Fabian shook his head. “No, Slughorn didn't have any Polyjuice Potion, and we can't be arsed to make it ourselves. We decided to booby-trap the portrait hole instead. These are cream pies.”
“And a spring-loaded arm,” Gideon added. “We found it in Zonko's, they always have the best toys.”
Arthur couldn't think of a response to that. The twins were grinning proudly.
“It's going to shoot cream pies at everyone who comes through the portrait hole,” Fabian explained, in case Arthur had not fully grasped their plan.
“What if Molly's the one who comes through?” Arthur wanted to know.
“She could probably use a cream pie in the face,” Gideon said cheerfully. “It would do her good.”
There was a horrifying thought. Molly would probably kill them. “And what if she catches us setting it up?”
“Well, if she sees us, you can just use your magic snogging powers to shut her up,” Fabian said cheerfully.
Arthur realized he was rubbing his temple and put his hand down.
Gideon nodded encouragingly at him. “You can see we've thought of everything,” he said. “Want to lend a hand?”
“Why do you keep asking me?” He knew he sounded like he was pleading with them, but he couldn't help it. He wanted them to like him, but he was starting to wish they would just like him from a little further away.
Fabian clapped a hand to his shoulder. “You're like the older brother we always wished Molly had been.”
“Merlin's beard,” Arthur said helplessly, but he had an excuse ready now. “I can't help you, Molly's been writing to my mum. She might tell her what I'd done if she gets angry with me again.”
The twins gave him identical sympathetic looks.
“She'll definitely write your mum. She's always writing ours,” Fabian said. “Does your mum send Howlers? Our mum says she buys them in bulk.”
“But you've got the magic snog,” Gideon said cheerfully. “There's nothing to worry about.”
“I'll just stand here all day, waiting for you, shall I?” the Fat Lady said irritably, glaring at them.
“That'd be great, thanks,” Gideon said, and turned back to Arthur. The Fat Lady gave an outraged sniff.
“We'd better go in. Thistledown,” Arthur said to the portrait, who swung open with a bad-tempered expression.
Molly was sitting in the common room, curled up in a chair near the window, with a novel open in front of her, eating Chocoballs from a small bag on her lap. She did not appear to notice them at first.
“Are you reading another of those trashy novels, Molly?” Gideon demanded loudly when he caught sight of his elder sister.
Molly started violently and dropped her book, choking on a piece of chocolate as she scrambled to retrieve the novel from the floor and hide it behind the chair cushion. Her cheeks were very red, and she glared at her brothers angrily as she swallowed to clear her throat, then demanded, “What are you doing, sneaking up on people like that?”
“No one was sneaking up on anyone,” Gideon said loftily. “You weren't paying attention to anything but rippling muscles and heaving bosoms.”
“Shut up,” Molly said in a high-pitched voice, her face bright red. Arthur glanced down at the cushion where she'd hidden the book with renewed interest. Was that really what she'd been reading about?
Molly had noticed the bulging bag on Fabian's arm, though, and gave it a suspicious jab with her finger. “What's in there?”
“It's an extremely fragile bag of None of Your Business, actually,” Gideon said haughtily. “Don't touch.”
“It's just books,” Fabian added hastily. “Nothing to be concerned about here, dear sister.” He gave his brother a glare as if he were ruining their plan with his suspicious behaviour.
“Come off it. As if either of you study. What are you really doing?” She turned her attention on Arthur. “Are you helping them?”
“No,” he said quickly. “I just ran into them at the Fat Lady's portrait, that's all. I was looking for you.”
Molly smiled at him and then turned to her brothers again. “I know you're up to something.” She drew her wand and jabbed at the bag, but Fabian backed up a step. “What's in the bag?”
Fabian clutched the bag protectively, and Gideon drew his wand as well. “We're going to our dormitory now,” he drawled. “Why don't you just stay here and-”
“If you're going to cause trouble, I want to know about it. Arthur.” She turned to him again, and he took a step back in alarm. “Arthur, what are they doing?”
“I don't know anything, please don't ask me. I told them it was a bad idea.” It took an effort not to duck away from her and flee when she glared like that. He didn't like being yelled at and was sure it was imminent, but she refocused on her brothers with her eyes narrowed.
The twins ducked behind Arthur's back.
“Are you mad? We're already losing the House Cup, and you want to do something that could make us lose even more points?”
“How do you know that's what we're doing?” Gideon asked, poking his head out from behind Arthur. “You've no idea. We could be winding bandages for sick Muggles for all you know.”
“Don't be ridiculous – winding bandages – give me that bag -” Molly had dropped her wand on her chair and was trying to get at her brothers around Arthur. He raised his arms to his head protectively as she chased them around him in a circle.
Arthur grabbed a hold of Molly's arm as she came around in front of him again, and she pulled away immediately, yanking her arm out of his grasp. She took a step back, pushing her hair out of her face, and shook her finger at him. “Now, don't you get in the middle of this, Arthur,” she said, though it was clear he already was – literally.
“It's none of your bloody business whether we get in trouble or not, you nosy cow,” Fabian said hotly, still cradling the bag of cream pies against his chest. Arthur was privately impressed that the pies had not been smashed all over the place by now.
Molly's face flushed with rage. “How dare y- watch your language, you horrible little boy! Arthur, are you going to let him talk to me like that?”
“Don't talk to your sister like that,” said Arthur automatically, thinking of how she'd just a moment ago told him to stay out of it.
The twins ignored him. They were still hiding behind him, and Molly was looking angrier by the second. She drew herself up haughtily and gave her brothers an icy glare.
“All right, fine. Don't tell me what you're up to. I'm writing to Mum.”
“Damn.” Gideon gave Arthur a little shove toward Molly. “Quick, Arthur! Snog her!”
Molly's face flushed again and he thought she might slap her little brother. “I beg your pardon?” she said in freezing tones, reaching around Arthur to take hold of her brother's ear, but Gideon was too fast. He slipped under her outstretched arm, and both of the twins beat a hasty retreat out the portrait hole.
Molly turned to Arthur, who leaned back slightly away from her. Her face was still red, and she looked almost as angry as she had when she'd caught him with the badger.
“What did he mean by that?”
“Erm,” said Arthur nervously. “Your brothers think I have some sort of magic power over you. With kisses, I mean. I'm sure they're only joking, though.”
Molly's face turned several shades darker. “I'm going to kill the both of them.”
Arthur wondered if he ought to test out his alleged magic powers now, and started to reach for her, but she held up one finger and said, “Don't kiss me right now, I'm not through being angry yet.”
Arthur's arms dropped back to his sides and she glared at him in silence for a moment, looking as if she were struggling internally with something. He was about to ask whether she was angry with him or only with her brothers when she let out a loud sigh.
“Oh all right, kiss me.”
Arthur grinned. This time when he reached for her, she stepped into his arms and splayed her fingers out on his chest. After a few moments, they broke apart and she said bemusedly, “Maybe you do have magic kissing powers. I don't feel angry at all now.”
“It only works on you,” he said, smiling at her.
“You'd better not try it on anyone else,” she warned him.
“Never.” And it was true, he really had no interest in kissing anyone but her. He kissed her again, and she glanced toward the portrait hole and sighed.
“What did they have in the bag?”
He patted her shoulder. “You really don't want to know.”
The rumours of Professor Ampara's impending departure from the school had spread throughout all the students by the end of the week, and it eventually became clear that the Defence teacher would either have to confirm or deny the rumour in order for her students to give their studies their full attention again. Arthur was not surprised to see her waiting in front of the classroom with an impatient air on Friday as the sixth-year class shuffled in. She tapped her wand loudly against the desk to draw their attention to her as they all took their seats.
“Some of you may have heard that I won't be coming back next year.” Professor Ampara squared her shoulders as her gaze scanned the faces of her students. “I'd like to tell you now, it isn't true. I will be here next year, and I will personally make sure every one of you passes your N.E.W.T.”
Cecilia looked relieved, and sat back in her chair with one hand at her throat. Molly and Hattie were smiling at each other, and Petula gave an exaggerated sigh of relief, resting her head against her desk. Arthur's brow wrinkled as he leaned forward on his desk to look at the professor more closely, adjusting his glasses. Her face was pale, her dark eyes huge in her thin face, and a long white scar that had not been there before crossed her neck from her left ear to her right collarbone. She had lost some weight since the beginning of the year. She looked as if she'd been sick for quite some time. He wondered, not for the first time that term, what was wrong with Professor Ampara.
He glanced around the room then. The other students were chatting quietly with an air of great relief, and Professor Ampara had gone behind her desk to write something on the chalkboard. No one else seemed concerned about her appearance. There was only relief on the faces in the classroom.
It gave Arthur a distinctly bad feeling.
A/N: I just wanted to apologize for the long gap between updates. I've been a travellin' fool this summer, but I'm home again now and getting back into the swing of things. I'm working to finish this by the end of September, after which keep an eye out for new fics on Cecilia, Hattie, and Molly and Arthur of course :) Thanks for sticking with me, and a huge thank you to everyone who nominated me and voted for me in the Dobbys!
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