Chapter 5 : Tea, or Something Stronger
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“Good luck with Molly’s parents,” Bilius called to them, grinning evilly as they left the house.
Molly led the way this time, holding Arthur’s hand tightly and Apparating into her parents’ front yard.
They stood for a moment in the spot they’d just landed, looking at each other and taking a deep breath. Molly's parents were far more volatile than Arthur's, and there was a much greater chance of there being a lot of shouting when the Prewetts found out about their only daughter's runaway marriage.
Arthur was staring at her parents' house apprehensively. She could see his eyes looking wide and a little scared behind the glint of his glasses.
“It’ll be all right,” Molly said, though this was as much to reassure herself as it was her new husband.
“If your dad kills me, I want to be buried in the Weasley family plot,” Arthur said quickly. “And you make sure you’re buried next to me someday.”
Molly let out a slightly frightened giggle.
“There you are,” said a voice from above them. Molly looked up and saw her little brothers hovering over her head on brooms. Gideon had a Quaffle tucked under his arm and they were both grinning at her.
“Mum’s ready to call Magical Law Enforcement to go find your body in a ditch,” Fabian told his sister.
“We told her you’d probably just run off with Arthur or something, but that didn’t make her feel any better,” Gideon said cheerfully.
Molly’s eyes widened and Arthur paled. They looked at each other in shock. Gideon and Fabian looked at them, then at each other, and then back down at Molly and Arthur.
“You didn’t really elope, did you?” Fabian asked with a frown. Molly just stared back up at him with a stricken expression, unable to find her voice.
“You did!” Gideon crowed. “Oh this is wonderful! Mum’s going to kill you!”
“Thanks a lot, Gideon,” Arthur said dryly.
“This is brilliant,” Fabian said happily. “It’ll distract Mum from being upset that neither Gid nor I were made prefects this year. We got our Hogwarts letters yesterday,” he added. “We’ve been hiding them from Mum, but now we don’t have to, because she’ll be too busy burying your bodies in the backyard to yell at us.”
“Yeah, thanks Molly,” Gideon added. “Perfect timing as usual.”
“Oh, shut up,” Molly said crossly.
She grabbed Arthur’s hand again and headed for the house with a determined stride, dragging Arthur along behind her.
“I hope you can still cast that Shield Charm!” Fabian called after her.
“I don’t think I can do this,” Arthur said, sounding panicked.
“Well, we have to now, if we don’t tell them, those two idiots will,” she said, jabbing her thumb at her brothers as she opened the front door.
“Remember, the Weasley plot,” Arthur mumbled as she dragged him into the house.
For some reason, Molly almost expected her house to look different. It had been her home since she'd been born, but the sudden huge alteration to her life yesterday made the familiarity of the house seem almost strange. The hallway was the same as it ever was: a small pile of her father's novels stacked on a table, one of many signs of her mother's constant battle against his clutter. They seemed to have been waging a private war ever since Molly could remember, and the house was the main battleground. The house seemed quite suddenly to represent her parents. Their rather forceful personalities had been deeply impressed into it, so that she almost couldn't imagine a life in this house now she was married.
“Mum! Dad! I’m home!” Molly called. She poked her head into the drawing room just as the door to the parlour slammed open and her mother appeared.
Antonia Prewett let out a scream and ran to her daughter, pulling her into a tight embrace. “I was just owling the Auror department! No one knew where you were!”
“Law enforcement won’t go look for a missing person for at least forty-eight hours, Mum,” Molly said, giving her mother a little pat on the back.
Her mother ignored that. “I contacted all your friends, and Hattie said she’d seen you yesterday morning but no one had heard from you since then. I sent your father to Diagon Alley to look for you this morning.”
Molly rolled her eyes. Her father had probably sat at the pub and had a pint instead of looking for her, just to spite her mother. “Mum, I’m fine. It was only one day.”
“You could have been killed by You-Know-Who, anything could have happened.” Antonia hugged her eldest child tightly. “I thought I’d have to have the Aurors search the ditches in London for your body. Oh, Molly…”
She patted her mother on the back again. “Where’s Dad, Mum? I want to tell you both something.”
Antonia let out a gasp and held her out at arm’s length. “Did you get engaged?”
Molly glanced over her shoulder at Arthur, who had turned bright red. “Erm, not exactly… Where’s Dad?”
“He’s in his study.”
Antonia led the way down the hall to the study. Hippolytus Prewett sat in an overstuffed armchair of a rather horrible mustard colour, cleaning his wand. He glanced up at them without stopping his polishing.
“There you are,” he said when he caught sight of his daughter. “I told you her body wasn’t in a ditch somewhere,” he added to his wife.
“Well, she might have been,” Antonia snapped. “At least I was concerned about her.”
“I was concerned,” Hippolytus said calmly, still cleaning his wand. “I just wasn’t insane.”
Antonia drew in a deep breath to shout at her husband, but he cut her off by asking his daughter, “Where were you last night? Your bed hasn’t been slept in, so don’t try to say you were home.”
“I wasn’t going to,” Molly said haughtily.
“You’d better go on home, Arthur,” Antonia said, clearly intending to shuffle him out of the house before the family got into one of their little ‘discussions’. “It’s good to see you, of course, dear. Why don’t you come round on Sunday for tea?”
Arthur looked at Molly nervously, and she told him, “You stay right there, Arthur.”
“What is going on, young lady?” her mother demanded.
Arthur seemed as if he were ready to seek shelter, and her father was watching them both with one eyebrow raised quizzically, the polishing cloth poised in his hand. Antonia had a look on her face that indicated she might explode at any moment. Molly drew a deep breath and held her chin up high.
“Arthur and I got married yesterday.”
“WHAT?” Antonia bellowed. “You got MARRIED? How could you do this without talking to me? Molly!”
“Mum, we’re in love!” Molly said loudly. “We’re both of age, it was our decision, not yours!”
“But you’re only eighteen!” her mother wailed. “I thought you wanted to go to Italy with Hattie this fall! You’re too young to be married!”
“You and Dad were hardly older than we are now when you were married!” Molly’s voice was rising in volume with every word.
“That’s how I know it isn’t a good idea!” Antonia shouted.
Hippolytus had gone back to cleaning his wand unconcernedly, as if a shouting match over his daughter eloping erupted in his study every day. Arthur eyed the large and heavy-looking wand warily and hunched down a little, trying to be unobtrusive, as his new bride and her mother shouted at each other.
“And why did your brothers know about this when you didn’t see fit to tell us?”
“We didn’t tell them!” Molly yelled, throwing her hands up in exasperation. “We didn’t tell anyone! They were just trying to get me in trouble and it was a lucky guess!”
Antonia’s face was so red, Molly thought her mother might burst a blood vessel at any moment. “Did you tell Arthur’s family?”
“Not until just this afternoon!”
“You told them before you told your own mother?” Antonia shrieked.
Molly stomped her foot, the anger and frustration threatening to overwhelm her. “Because I knew you’d behave this way! Arthur’s family was happy about it!”
“What makes you think I’m not happy?” her mother roared.
“Antonia, take Molly to the kitchen and make a pot of tea,” Hippolytus said sternly, tossing the polishing cloth onto the table next to the ugly mustard armchair and tapping his wand against his knee. A few red sparks fell to the floor. “I want to have a little chat with Arthur.”
“No!” Molly stood protectively in front of Arthur, who was looking at her father with his eyes round with terror. “Don’t hurt him, Daddy, I love him!”
Her father scowled at her. “I’m not going to hurt him, don’t be melodramatic. Go have some tea, young lady, and calm down.”
“Come along, Molly,” Antonia sniffed, pulling her toward the door.
“Women,” she heard her father say as they headed down the hall for the kitchen. “They’re easily overwrought. Delicate constitutions, you know, the weaker sex. They can't help themselves.”
Antonia let out an angry gasp. “Don’t you fill his head with your misogynist ranting!” she yelled at her husband.
“Go drink your tea, Antonia!” Hippolytus shouted back.
Antonia harrumphed loudly and stomped into the kitchen with Molly in tow.
“What do you think Dad is saying to Arthur?” Molly asked worriedly.
“Probably that he should have asked permission before he even thought about marrying you,” her mother snapped.
Molly grabbed the kettle and filled it with water, setting it on the stove and waving her wand to light the burner while her mother sat in aggrieved silence.
“Would you care for a biscuit with your tea, Mum?” Molly asked with frosty politeness as she stared at the kettle resentfully.
“Oh, forget biscuits and tea, get the firewhisky from under the sink,” Antonia said.
Molly rolled her eyes as she went to the cabinet under the sink and pulled her mother’s hidden bottle of firewhisky out from behind the cleaning potions. Her father had never found this particular hiding place, probably because he would never have touched the cleaning products to look behind them, so Antonia Prewett’s bottle of expensive firewhisky was safe. Even the twins hadn’t found it, and had instead focused all their attentions on learning how to break into their father’s liquor cabinet in his study. Molly had known about her mother’s hidden bottle since she was ten, and it had always been her secret with her mother, although she’d never been allowed to taste any, even since she came of age. Her mother referred to the bottle as 'Mummy's little helper' when she'd had a bad day with the twins.
She supposed her mother was due a bad day with her as well. She hadn't caused many over the years.
Molly grabbed a glass from the cabinet and was just about to close it when her mother said, “Get two glasses.”
Molly looked at her in surprise. Her mother wasn’t looking at her, though; she sat with her chin on her hand, staring at the display of decorative spoons on the wall. Molly picked up a second glass and set them both down on the table in front of her mother with the bottle of firewhisky.
Antonia poured two generous glasses and slid one over to her daughter. Molly sipped in silence for a few moments, watching her mother, who was still staring at the spoons.
“Did you already have your wedding night?” her mother asked abruptly.
“Yes,” Molly said warily. “It’s too late to try to have the marriage annulled, if that’s what you’re thinking.”
Antonia rolled the glass around between her palms, still staring at the spoons. “That's not what I was thinking. I... I should have been there to give you advice, about being a bride and a wife.”
“It's all right, Mum,” Molly said, thinking privately that that conversation sounded like it would have been a laugh.
Antonia finally looked over at her daughter, searching her face. “And are you happy?”
Molly smiled then. “Yes,” she said on a blissful sigh. “I love him so, Mum.”
“All right then, dear.” Antonia patted her hand. “Drink your firewhisky before your father sees it. Then we’ll pour ourselves some tea.” She downed her firewhisky in one go while Molly finished the rest of hers. Antonia snatched up the empty glasses, and hurried to put the bottle away. The kettle was whistling, and Antonia set a pair of teacups and a box of tea leaves on the table.
“I feel safe with him,” Molly said softly. “It's like everything is wonderful and happy again when we're together. I haven't felt safe since... since Cecilia died.”
Antonia stirred her tea, her face suddenly drawn. “Poor girl. She was so young.” She sighed, looking at her daughter. “So young.”
Molly nodded, her eyes on her mother. “I'm sorry I made you worry, Mum.”
“I was afraid your body would turn up, like the Fletchers,” said her mother in a quiet voice, and Molly felt her cheeks burning with guilt. “Anything could have happened to you.”
“We were in a Muggle village,” Molly said uncomfortably. Her mother had a point, but the little golden bubble of wedding happiness had kept them from seeing it. She was so accustomed to her mother being melodramatic that she hadn't stopped to consider that this time, her mother's fears might have been justified. “And Arthur knows how to duel. So do I.”
“I have confidence in your abilities, Molly, and I'm sure Arthur can take care of both of you, but these are dangerous times,” Antonia said.
The door to the study opened, and they both looked around to see Hippolytus shaking Arthur’s hand as he ushered him out, and then gave him a hearty slap on the back that sent Arthur staggering.
“Run along and have some tea with your wife now, my lad,” her father said cheerfully as he shut the door behind Arthur.
Arthur turned bemusedly to meet Molly’s eyes. Antonia rose to get another cup as he stumbled into the kitchen.
“What happened?” Molly asked worriedly.
“He just congratulated me for taking you on and wanted to know if I had a job, that’s all,” Arthur whispered back, sitting down next to her. “Then he talked about the new book he's reading and asked if I like Auror novels. I don’t think he’s angry.”
Antonia had apparently overheard this and let out a snort of laughter. “You are very brave to take on Molly,” she said with a grin, setting a cup in front of him and pouring some tea.
“Mum,” Molly said reprovingly, frowning at her.
“Well, she’s your problem now, not ours,” Antonia said brightly. “Good luck, Arthur.”
Arthur smiled mischievously. “I’ll do my best, but it won’t be easy.”
Molly gave his shoulder a little shove. “Arthur!”
“Congratulations, my dears,” Antonia said with a chuckle.
“Thanks, Mrs. Prewett,” Arthur said.
“Thanks Mum.” Molly quirked one eyebrow at her mother.
“So,” Antonia drawled as Arthur took a sip. “When do you think you’ll have children?”
Arthur choked on his tea.
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