Molly was no stranger to relationships, but that didn't mean she was familiar with love.
She watched it from afar, let it fall from her lips a thousand times a day, scribbled it across every bit of parchment she could find, and hummed its many rhythms when she was alone someplace. She even scrawled it on her arms in permanent ink, in English on one and Latin on the other, so she'd never forget it.
She wrote pages and pages of what she thought it meant, of all that the four letters implied. She would wake up in the morning, just her in her little flat, a cup of coffee on the table sitting untouched while she stared at the two words etched forever on her skin.
It meant so many things these days that it had come to mean nothing. It was a means of getting what you wanted, of filling in a blank when there was no other word to stay instead. It could apply to pumpkin pasties much more easily than it could to her latest fling. It was the word that flew to the tip of the tongue and for some came right out, while others bit it back and swallowed it once more.
Sometimes she mouthed it to herself, just to feel the different ways that her lips could form it. Which to focus on, the 'l' or the 'v'? Both were important, she thought. About as important as anything relating to that word was ever going to get.
For all the times she'd said it, she could still remember everyone she'd ever said it to. Her mum and dad were first in line, and she said it to them every night before bed until she went to Hogwarts, because that's what little girls did. Her sister, when she was crying or scared. Her grandparents, because they deserved it and because she knew how happy they were to hear it. Her aunts and uncles and cousins, usually so they'd leave her alone.
Then came her days at Hogwarts, where she learned that she had never ever meant it, and probably never would.
She said it to Lysander Scamander, who'd said it first one evening in the Ravenclaw Common Room. It was an accident, an automatic response that she wanted to reverse the moment she realized it happened. They never spoke of it again.
Next was Finn Watson. She'd thought she meant that one at the time; she'd said it on purpose, at least. But it took her less than a month to realize that however genuine she could make it sound, she felt close to nothing.
Then there was Scorpius. Scorpius Malfoy, the boy she'd sworn she would never say that to, and the one she wished she'd avoided above all the others. Because maybe she didn't know too much about the word, but the way he'd looked at her, she thought that maybe, just maybe, he did understand it, and maybe he understood it to the point where he was capable of feeling it.
But whether he felt it or not, she still didn't. She didn't believe she ever could.
He was the only one she ever gave the chance to prove her wrong. Three days, she told him. If he could show her what it meant in three days, he was nothing short of a miracle worker.
Three days later, she woke alone in the satin sheets of someone else's bed, only slightly aware of what had happened, unsure what to think other than I still don't know what it means. He cooked her breakfast, asked her if she felt any different, nodded when she told him no, like he'd expected it all along.
She didn't blame him. He'd tried, and for three days she tried her best to keep an open mind. But after that night, she only added another way the word could be used, another way of inserting it in a sentence in a way that other people would pretend to understand while she still didn't. She used this new form when she told Lily about it the next day.
The other word on her arm meant the same thing, almost. Except it didn't. It meant what it was supposed to mean in English, only the way it rolled of the tongue sounded more caressing than the harsh 'v' in love, like it was gentle and soothing and warm. If she had to try to feel it for herself, she quite thought she'd want to feel it in Latin first.
It wasn't a word you could use for what she and Scorpius did that night; it wasn't a plea for your sister to play Quidditch with you or to convince your mum to buy you new dress robes. It was unambiguous, factual, like the only word that could have possibly been said in a particular sentence was amor.
She liked facts, and she liked that while her native tongue had got it wrong, the magical language said it the right way. If she ever thought she meant it, she'd say amor.
Here she was, at the kitchen table once again, sipping the top off a cup of coffee and then leaving it there to cool while she stared. She would sit for hours glancing from wrist to wrist if she was able.
It was only last year she’d made the decision to write an everlasting tribute to the impossible on a part of her body she looked at the most. It was a Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes service; Uncle George had done it himself, swearing to Circe and Merlin and every legendary wizard that it wouldn’t come off if she tried. So she told him what she wanted, and he complied.
Love, the most foreign word she’d ever heard, and amor, the one she wished she knew just a little bit better.
Molly was no stranger to relationships, but that didn't mean she would ever be familiar with love.
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