Chapter 1 : Chapter 1
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“I’m so sorry, Molly!” Matilda Erikson replied, hastily gathering up as many books and roles of parchment as she could save. “It didn’t ruin anything important, did it? You know I’ve always been a terrible klutz!” She deposited the books and parchment safely into an empty chair and began to pull out her wand. “Here, I’ll clean it up.”
Molly lay a hand gently upon her friend’s arm. “Relax, Tillie, it’ll be all right. You know that spell never works quite right on the colour-changing ink. I’ll just nip some Mrs. Scower’s from the prefect store cupboard. My mum swears by that stuff; claims it’ll get out anything,” she finished, rolling her eyes. Her mum could talk about cleaning products for ages.
“Thanks, Molly,” Matilda replied with a relieved smile as she began to pick through the soiled bits of parchment, syphoning off the excess ink to see what could be salvaged.
Molly returned the smile, shaking her head slightly in an amused way. Matilda was her best mate, but she really was hopeless sometimes. Molly hummed quietly to herself as she made her way into the alcove that housed the prefect’s storage cupboard. It was a lovely little cupboard; inside were all sorts of things that might prove necessary in a dormitory housing numerous underage wizards and witches who were, primarily, unsupervised; everything from blankets and bandages, to wizard chess sets and spare quills. Also in this cupboard, Molly knew, was a collection of basic magical cleaning products for occasions just like the one she found herself in.
Reaching the cupboard, Molly pulled open the door only to instantly slam it shut once more. “Sorry, sorry!” she muttered hastily to the couple who were occupying the enclosure. Molly felt herself turn slightly red. She had, luckily, only caught a glimpse of two bodies pressed together and hadn’t recognised them, but it was still an embarrassing situation. She slunk off to the bathroom for a moment to wash the ink from her hands and give the couple some time to make themselves scarce before she returned for the mess remover.
Washing her hands, Molly mentally berated herself for walking away from the obvious rule breakers, but the truth was, she had spent a night or two in that closet herself. It really was a lovely little place, just the perfect size for two and away from Filch's grasp. She would feel like a hypocrite, punishing her classmates for something that she and Arthur had done on more than one occasion.
She flushed slightly at the thought of Arthur Weasley, and smiled to herself. The two of them had been dating for almost a year now, and she was fairly certain that she was in love. She knew she was young, not even of age, but she couldn’t imagine being with anyone else. However, lately he has been a little distant. It all started two weeks ago when he began working on a Muggle studies project with Aurelia Barrette from Ravenclaw. Aurelia was, without a doubt, the most beautiful girl that Molly had ever seen; deep olive skin, striking blue eyes, and long, perfectly straight hair, black as night. Molly’s smile faded as she took a moment to examine her own reflection in the mirror above the sink. Frizzy red hair that wouldn’t lie straight or curl, just settled into uncontrollable waves, a smattering of freckles across her face, big nose, thin lips…she sighed and turned away. No, she wasn’t beautiful, but Arthur must’ve seen something he liked in her, she simply couldn’t fathom what it was.
Molly glanced down at her watch and decided that she had given the couple ample time to make themselves scarce, so she returned to the store cupboard. As she pulled the door open for the second time, she could hear shuffling movements. “For heaven’s sake!” Molly scolded, flipping the light switch. “I gave you plenty of time to sneak off, but you…” she stopped as she recognised the two figures before her. Molly’s jaw dropped and she could sense the tears welling behind her eyes as the girl ducked her head in amused embarrassment, hiding behind a curtain of dark hair. The boy simply stared at her with a look of deepest loathing. “T-twenty points from Ravenclaw, Aurelia, for sneaking into the Gryffindor common room. And twenty p-points from Gryffindor for bringing her here, Arthur.” She turned on her heel and hurried away, unable to repress her tears any longer.
She raced straight to her, blessedly, empty dorm room and crawled into bed, hiding her head under the covers. How could he have done that to her? If he wanted to break up with her, he could have just said so. Molly gripped her pillow tightly as she could feel her heart break. She had loved him and had fooled herself into believing that he loved her, too. She lay there for a long time, crying until she had nothing left.
“Molly? Are you in here?” Tillie pushed the door open and crossed over to Molly’s bed. “You never came back with the--Molly? What is it? What happened?”
Molly rolled over to look at her friend, a fresh wave of tears threatening to overwhelm her. “I hate that cupboard,” was all she managed to choke out before dissolving once more into inconsolable sobs.
* * *
The next morning, as she walked down the corridor with Tillie, a familiar voice called after her. “There you are, Molly!” Arthur jogged to catch up. “You must’ve gone to bed before I got back last night,” he leaned in to greet her with his customary kiss on the cheek.
“How dare you!” Tillie screeched as Molly recoiled in horror.
“What the bloody hell do you think you’re doing?” she sneered, hugging her books to her chest and glaring daggers at him.
“W-what? What’s going on?” he took an automatic step back at the fury radiating from the two girls as his gaze flickered between them. “Did something happen? Have…have you been crying, Molly? What’s wrong?” He reached out to grasp her hand, but she pulled away, laughing derisively.
“Ha! As if you didn’t know. I think you made it abundantly clear last night that our relationship is over. And, no Arthur Weasley, I haven’t been crying. I wouldn’t waste my time crying over a cheating git like you,” she lied. “Now, if you don’t mind, I’ll be going to class.” She pushed past him and strode off in the direction of the Charms classroom, nearly shaking with anger and blinking back tears.
Arthur looked as if he had been slapped. “Last night?” he murmured. “Molly!” he called, hurrying after her. “Molly, wait, please,” he grasped her arm as he caught up. She pulled away, but stopped walking and turned to look at him, disgust clearly written on her face. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I was studying with Aurelia in the library last night. I told you, remember?”
“Studying, hmm? Is that what they’re calling it?” Tillie shot back angrily.
Arthur ignored her comment and continued looking at Molly. "We were just studying, nothing else, I swear. I can try to get another Muggle Studies partner if it upsets you so much, but I don’t understand why you’re so angry.”
“That’s because you’re a git,” Tillie responded. “Come on, Molly.” Tillie grabbed her arm and pulled her firmly away down the hallway, but Molly was confused. Why was Arthur acting like that? He knew he was caught. He had looked her directly in the eye last night and hadn’t seemed to care at all that she saw them. She couldn’t help but cast one last glance over her shoulder. Arthur stood there, looking legitimately shocked, hurt, and confused. It just didn’t make sense…
* * *
When they returned to the common room that night, Molly noticed that Tillie’s colour changing ink stain was still in the carpet, still slowly fading from one colour to another. It seemed that not even house elf magic could get that stain out.
“We should probably try to clean this up,” Molly sighed. “I’ll go get the Mrs. Scower’s.”
Tillie looked at her with concern, “Are you sure you want to do that?”
Molly managed a smile. “Thanks, Tillie, but I'll be fine. Not even Arthur Weasley would be stupid enough to try to sneak her into that cupboard again,” she felt a slight twinge as she said his name, but Tillie seemed satisfied, so she headed into the alcove to the storage cupboard.
She could feel her heart beating faster as she began to open the door to the dreaded cupboard. Taking a deep breath, she reminded herself what she had told Tillie: no one was stupid enough to return to the place they were caught the previous evening.
Apparently she was mistaken. Arthur and Aurelia stood together inside the cupboard, intertwined and snogging as if there were no tomorrow. She stepped back away from the door and slammed it shut, breathing heavily. She wanted so badly to flee, but she wouldn’t. She wouldn’t cry any more tears over someone who was so obviously not worth them. No, instead she would give him a piece of her mind, she would let him know exactly what she thought of him. She took a few deep shuddering breaths to calm herself before pulling the door open once more.
“Molly! I’ve been looking for you! Could we--” Arthur appeared around the corner, frozen in shock as he saw himself in the closet wrapped around Aurelia. “What…?”
With a slight pop, Arthur and Aurelia changed into a giant, poisonous green snake, leering down towards the other Arthur as he took several steps backwards in terror.
Molly flushed crimson as she suddenly understood. The answer was so obvious and embarrassing that she couldn’t believe she hadn’t realised it right away.
“Here!” she called, moving to step in front of Arthur. The snake changed instantly back into the form of Arthur and Aurelia. “Riddikulus,” she muttered, aiming her wand at the snogging couple, but she was too embarrassed to focus properly, and nothing happened.
Fortunately, Arthur caught on at this point and moved back in front of Molly. With a slight pop, the students transformed back into the large, green snake. “Riddikulus!” he shouted and the snake turned into a giant metal spring. He laughed as it tumbled end over end before disappearing into a puff of smoke.
The two of them stood staring at each other for a moment until Molly realised that the commotion had drawn a crowd. She felt her cheeks burning as she fought the urge to run to her dorm to escape the prying eyes. Instead, she stepped calmly into the closet and waited for Arthur to follow.
He closed the door after himself, and they stood together in the dark, neither of them speaking. Molly bit her lower lip nervously, too ashamed to even light the lantern that hung over head. She couldn’t bear to look at Arthur. How could she have let herself be fooled by a boggart? How could she even think that Arthur would do something like that to her? How would he ever forgive her lack of faith in him?
“Molly?” he asked softly, lighting the lantern with a flick of his own wand. She didn’t answer, keeping her head bowed and struggling to blink back her tears.
“Molly,” he said again, placing a hand upon her arm. “Was that what today was all about? You didn’t realize that was just a boggart?”
She nodded at him, still keeping her head down as the tears began to flow. She felt unbelievably foolish.
“Molly, look at me,” he gently lifted her chin until she was forced to meet his gaze. “I would never do anything like that to you, love. You don’t have anything to fear from me. I love you, Molly Prewett. You and no one else.” He wiped a tear gently from her cheek.
Molly felt her shame increase, he was such a good man. “I’m sorry, Arthur,” she muttered. “I should’ve known better. I should have realised that something was wrong, that you would never do anything like that.”
“Yes, you should have,” he responded, a slight edge to his voice, but then he sighed. “I can’t stay mad at you, Molly. It did look pretty bad,” he admitted, half-smiling at her. “Just promise me one thing: In the future, don’t ever stop talking to me. If something is bothering you, we’ll work it out together, ok?”
She looked up at him and knew without a doubt that there was no one else in the world for her. Her heart was taken, and she had entrusted it into the best hands. “I promise,” she murmured. “I really am sorry.”
“I know,” he smiled as he pulled her into his arms. “And you’re forgiven.”
They stood there for several moments, enjoying the intimacy of the moment until Arthur whispered into her ear, “So that’s really your boggart? I think I’m flattered, Molly Prewett.”
She pulled away, glaring half-heartedly at his lopsided smirk. “Shut-up, Arthur. What was that ridiculous thing that you turned the snake into, anyway?” she changed the subject quickly.
Arthur’s eyes lit up. “It’s called a slink-ny! It’s a type of Muggle toy that’s kind of like a spring, except that you can do all sort of tricks with it. Like, it can go down stairs all by itself and…”
Molly could sense that this could go on for awhile, so she did the only thing she could think of to make him stop. She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him mid-word. He recovered from his shock quickly, tangling one hand in her hair and using the other to hook her waist and pull her closer.
It really was a lovely little cupboard.
Written for Jenna822's 'A Riddikulus Challenge'.