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Chapter 4 : (oasis)
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She thinks she is living her life by Sundays. The days pass breathtakingly quickly. Helping her mother clean the house. Listening to her father drone on about his work. Walking every evening with Lucy, discussing living and life and loss and all the things she could think of. Every weekday blends into the other, from waking to feel the morning cold engulf her to lying down to sleep, watching the black of the sky clash with a deep, dark red. Her days are quiet.
Cousins flit between the empty days and rain and almost-storms. Fred came last Tuesday and Dominique and her father on Friday and Aunt Ginny with a reluctant Lily yesterday. She half wonders if her aunts are marching in and out because they pity her. But either way, Molly has grown accustomed to their voices stringing throughout the house.
She wishes something - anything – would happen. There is solitude and solace and silence, but she wishes for something more. A small, secret part of her wishes she could take to the cold of the streets again with violin in hand, but she knows how that turned out last time. She stands on her doorstep and watches the stars rise and a light turn on and a car drive by and she wishes for something, someone to come and change everything.
Invariably, Sunday comes. She wishes she didn’t have to go, but knows that she must. It is family and duty and today.
This time, it is by afternoon and lunch and again by lakeside. Almost everyone is here again, save for Lysander and Lorcan, who are out of town with their family, and Louis, who is at home sick.
It has been the year of no summer and only storms, but she does not mind it much. She is one for coldness. Though, by the lakeside, it is almost more than she can bear. The water is a sleek, placid grey, reflecting the cloudy sky.
From a short distance away, she sees Teddy walking alone. Reminded of a previous day, she walks towards him faster, eager to break the monotonous loneliness.
He stops. It occurs to her how hassled he looks, like he hasn’t properly slept for a few days. He is scruffy hair and rimmed eyes. He passes a hand over his face. “Oh. Hi.”
She smiles at him, but as she nears him, her smile falters. “Is something wrong?”
“Are you sure?” She’s caught up to him now. In the few seconds before, she had worried whether he would want her there, but she is fifteen again and he is Teddy and she is Molly and they are friends. He might not want her, but if he needs her, she will be there.
Molly nods, understanding. She has never been one to probe more than needed. Silence descends upon them and he looks away, a pained look in his eyes. She wonders if she ought to leave.
And then, after a good few minutes of nothingness and waves and trees, he says, with an air of reluctance, “It’s Victoire.”
“Did something happen?”
The anger in his eyes returns. “I don’t know how much longer I can deal with her, Molly. She’s so – emotional all the time – it’s impossible to keep her happy – “ He gives a grand, old sigh. "I think at this point, we want very different things in life. And we're turning out to be really different people."
“Well, if you feel that way, there's always an obvious solution."
“But – “
“Do you love her?”
A cloud rumbles faintly against a mass of grey. The sun is hidden from the world.
“I'm always going to love Victoire," says Teddy. "She's been there with my whole life."
So have I, says a small part of Molly.
Molly understands. If it is one thing about Molly Weasley, she always understands.
"But I don't know if what we have is healthy anymore," says Teddy reluctantly. "I'll always love her, but I don't know if I'm actually in love with her. We argue all the time now. Sometimes it's about her wanting me to get a different job or how she thinks I'm wasting my life in Magical Equipment. But I can't just leave her. Her family and my grandmum've been building up this fantasy for a decade now about how she and I are going to get married or something."
“Don’t overthink it, Ted. I mean, relationship or no relationship, no matter what, you've got to look out for your own happiness."
His smile flickers like a light against a storm. “You think so?”
“Of course I do. And besides, you’re the persistent type, aren’t you? Remember your fifth year, during O.W.Ls? We all told you not to take Divination, but you did.”
His features pull up very slightly. Molly grins at the small progress. It is the talk of better days. “I still failed, though. I got a P.”
“I’ve done worse.”
“You have not.”
“I got a D in Transfiguration.”
“I wish I was,” she says, wondering if he will see through her.
“No, you’re definitely joking. You told everyone you got an E!”
“Everyone was comparing results – you know I couldn’t have just told the rest of the family – “
“Merlin,” he says quietly, but he looks considerably more cheerful. Molly grins at this and thinks of how easily he can be fooled.
After a pause, she says, “I do hope things work out between you two. But – in case –“ (he flinches at this and she ignores him) “ – you know – you leave her, then don’t feel bad about yourself. If it’s meant to happen, it will.”
“I guess so.”
“And even if you two break up and my whole family loathes you, I’ll still think you’re great.”
She blushes slightly and looks away. “I always have, you idiot.”
He laughs at this and throws an arm around her shoulder and steers her away from the lakeside. She didn’t know she was so close to the water, but he pulls her away carefully. “Thanks.”
“Just don’t let her get you down.”
“Do you think I should try to stay with her?” He gazes off into the distance. A brief interlude of lightness illuminates where they stand.
“I don’t know. You tell me.”
“I don’t see the point of it. Today, we’ll be happy again and tomorrow, it’ll be back to the same thing. But – “
Molly resists the small urge to roll her eyes. The conversation is back where they began. She shakes his arm off.
“I don’t really think it’s in my place to tell you whether or not to leave her. That’s up to you. But you guys’ve been together for ages.”
“We have.” The time clouds him. “It’s been a few years.”
“I think you guys would’ve given her parents a run for their money.”
“We could have.”
Again the sorrow.
“Don’t worry about it, Teddy. Just don’t think about right now. You can get it all fixed with her later.”
“We were supposed to be so much more, Molly. Everyone always told us that we’d be together forever. It'll be such a huge disappointment.“
“That’s not true,” says Molly, thinking of her grandmother and her aunts and biting back the truth. “And forget about them – my family’s known for being a bit crazy anyway. Do whatever you think is right.”
They’ve walked the perimeter of the lake already. Molly stands in wonderment. How did time pass so quickly? The memories of lunchtime have already sunk past. The waters of the lake are reflecting the light yellow of deep afternoon and almost twilight. Somewhere beyond, a flock of birds take flight.
“It’s kind of nice talking to you again,” he says, not quite meeting her eyes.
She smiles at this.
“And it’s nice having a friend who’s a girl, sometimes.”
“Yes, I doubt James would’ve been of much help here. Unless knowing the entire history of the Ballycastle Bats would've helped you decide whether to stay with Victoire or not.”
Another comfortable silence falls between them. She counts the seconds that fly past. Time seems frozen when she is with him, wrapped in his troubles. They walk and walk. The woodland beyond is engrossed in sound: birds taking flight and falling, trees rustling, songs being sung and forgotten. A breeze falls into her face and blows over her hair and into her eyes. She shivers, refreshed and freezing all at once.
She wishes he would say something. And he does.
“You think so?” She is staring at the ground, which has been made soft by the wishes of the water. Yesterday’s footprints of children still lay grazed. The sun has emerged now and bathes them all in a soft, speckled sunlight.
“Definitely. You’ve grown up.”
He throws his arm around her again and pulls her closer. She sticks out her tongue. “I have not.”
“No, you have. You’re not the same little girl who needed help getting on a broomstick.”
An embarrassing memory from her first year resurfaces. She blushes deeply at that. "Oh no. Please don't."
“What? You can tease me about Victoire and I can’t tease you about the broomstick?”
“Shut up, shut up! I’m not listening!”
He takes on a high pitched voice and she crinkles her nose. “Teddy – what if I fall off? Teddy, I think I’m going to cry – “
She hits him with the side of her arm. “Well, when you were fourteen, while you were trying to ask out Emily Goldstein, you vomited on – “
“Oh God, I remember that.”
“I ran into her when I got back. She still hates you for it.”
“Remember your date with Andrew Wood?” He bursts out laughing at this.
Molly says indignantly, “I thought we agreed never to mention him! He was a raving lunatic! Honestly, what I was thinking I’ll never know.”
“Definitely not as bad as Albus with that crazy fangirl of his, though. How they're getting along, I'll never know."
They both cringe at the mere thought of this.
“Yes, definitely not.”
She cannot bear herself to look at him any longer. It is an age-old secret, crinkled parchment and old bedrooms and Wednesdays. To her, he is butterflies that lie dispersed to the fifty winds. Together, she thought they could've been something beautiful. She fancied him, once. Fancying Teddy, as Lucy put it, was like a Weasley coming-of-age ceremony for all the girls. Everyone, save Lily, to whom he’d always been only a brother, had been there.
He had never noticed. Teddy had always had two roads he could've traveled down and two girls he could've chosen to love. He had never noticed the second.
And the stars had fallen apart and fallen away and the leaves had wilted and she had moved on. She had always remained Molly. His friend.
She tells herself that she had forgotten, but some small part of her has not. You can never completely forget, she thinks, when what you saw before has not left. A small tinge of bitterness, like all the flowers with no scent, tinges her.
But she is Molly and he is Teddy and after all these years, they have remained friends. Not just friends, but wondrously, incredibly, amazingly, friends. She was the quiet girl in Hufflepuff and he was the popular Gryffindor Quidditch Captain with a million friends and even years later, they are friends. She was the one he'd moped to over his first break-up, she was the one he'd gone to after receiving a Howler from his grandmum, she was the one he'd confided to about his growing feelings for Victoire...
She does not resent him for it. They talk with the ease of a river slipping through the rocks.
He finally says, “To be honest, I wish Victoire could be more like you.”
A secret for her ears only.
“You’re being silly. Victoire’s really beautiful," says Molly earnestly, "If I looked like her – “
“It wears off, believe me. Especially when you live with her.” He looks away. "She has a trillion expectations for what everyone has to be like. What they have to look like, what job they should have, how much money they should make...Being beautiful...isn't everything..."
"I guess.” Molly is reluctant to bad mouth her cousin and feels a flush of guilt along with the small sparks of happiness.
Her mother once again calls her name. Teddy frowns a little (is he sad to see her go?) and says, “Looks like you should go.”
“All right then. Take care, Teddy.”
“Thanks for listening.” He slumps a little and raises one hand in farewell. She grins and walks away, her red hair swimming through the undulations of the wind. She smiles because she has always listened and always will. She thinks he smiles back because he knows.
She walks, feeling the mist of the lake water hitting her softly. The clouds have almost completely disappeared now and sunlight is amidst everything – the chatters and chirps of the wildlife and the dances of the waves. A beautiful, brief interval of light and shine and sun.
He stands there, watching her, his hand still up, stuck in careful consideration. The sun shines and shines.
Author's Note: The beautiful chapter image above is by Musicbox at TDA! Thanks so much for reading and please don't forget to review!
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