Chapter 17 : Time Goes On
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Author's Note: I hope you all enjoy this chapter! It's mainly another transition chapter, but it has some scenes to help make the transitions bearable. Thanks again for all of my readers, and especially to the reviewers as I love reviews. Reviews make me smile. :)
Molly found it easier, if anything, to concentrate on her studies as the mock exams approached with Finn in the library each evening after supper. He did not expect her to talk with him, yet she still found herself taking short breaks to flirt. She found him even more adorable the more time they spent together, and she never tired of seeing that crooked grin of his.
“You’ll be fine,” Finn said, quelling her nerves.
It was Sunday evening, the night before the first mock exam and Molly was a nervous wreck. Not only that, but she had received a letter from her father’s old screech owl earlier over breakfast. She had immediately flew up staircase after staircase, feet pounding down on the marble/stone flooring, to spend another day in the library. Her father had lectured her in his elegant script the importance of mock exams, how he had not had such a luxury during his final year at Hogwarts and she had better take advantage of the chance she was getting to perform at her utmost best. Her brown hair was a frazzled mess due to all of the stress that was currently weighted on her shoulders.
“Relax, you’ll do magnificently,” Finn continued to encourage her. “Herbology is first, and you’re the best in our year in the subject. Just ask Longbottom and he’ll go on and praise you again if you need the extra boost. Matter fact, we can go down to his quarters now if you’d like.”
Molly giggled. “Thanks.”
“For what?” Finn asked, with a crease in his brow.
“For being so encouraging these last couple of weeks,” Molly said. “I would have lost it if you hadn’t been at my side, so thanks.”
Finn shrugged, accepting the kiss she planted on his cheek before turning his head to catch her lips on his. She felt his lips curve upward against hers, warm breath spilling from his mouth as he spoke, “It’s nothing.”
“But it means everything to me.”
The pair rested their foreheads against each others, content by being in the other’s company. They were still only friends, taking it slow, but their relationship continued to grow stronger and closer the more time they spent together. While Finn wanted Molly to be his girlfriend, he respected her decision for them to take it slow before reaching that point.
If Finn had not been there to sooth all of the tension out of her muscles with only his expression of assurance and lopsided grin, then Molly would have lost it already and these were only mock exams, after all. The real N.E.W.T.s weren’t for another few months after the winter holidays. She can only imagine how she would be in a few months’ time. But with Finn, all of her worries seemed to minimize instead of magnify the longer they sat there, not caring for the first time what marks she would receive. She would miss him while she was home spending Christmas and New Years with her family.
While she loved her family, they were a lot to handle all at once and she would surely go crazy with the insanity that will take place over the break.
“I’m going to miss this,” Molly said, breaking the silence.
“What are you going to miss?”
“This,” Molly repeated simply. “Us, just being with you.”
“We can find time to meet up over break,” Finn said, “We don’t have to spend it apart.”
“I doubt I could find time to sneak away from all of my relatives,” Molly said. “In case you haven’t noticed, I have an extraordinarily large family.”
“You could think of a way,” Finn replied.
“True, I could.”
She let her statement trail off, hanging in the empty air between them, before suddenly realising how late it had gotten. She really needed to get some sleep or she would be an even bigger mess than she already was come tomorrow morning. But she did not want to part from Finn as he was making her feel so much better about mock exams starting tomorrow morning at nine o’clock.
Eventually, though, she found herself packing up her bag with Finn doing the same beside her. He ended up walking her up to the Ravenclaw Tower, giving her a slight hug, before heading down to the dungeons for his own dorm. She could not help but think how lucky she was to have acquired Finn Harper’s friendship yet again, despite how she had once harboured a distinct hatred for the Slytherin in the past years. It was funny how people could creep up on you and change your whole perspective of them.
While she still was not sure of the relationship that was progressing between her and Finn, Molly knew better than to ignore her feelings for him. She really enjoyed spending time with him, and what was better was she could tell he liked her, at least, as much as she liked him. It was nice to have someone reciprocate her feelings that were not related to her.
On that final note, Molly finished getting ready for bed and crawled under the blue duvet as she shut her eyes. There were thoughts running through her mind of facts on plants and herbs, spells to use on plants, and so forth as she drifted off to sleep. She needed to do her best tomorrow morning, especially since she wanted to be a Herbologist.
The following day dawned bright an early as Molly made her way down to breakfast with knots in her stomach. She did not think she could eat anything. How could she be this nervous when mock exams were only supposed to be practice to show where they needed to focus their revisions on before the actual exams? Never before had she been so anxious over any test, not even over her O.W.L.s. It more than likely had to do with her standing up to her father about what she truly wanted to do after school. She felt like she had to prove she knew what was best for herself, which she did, by earning high scores in all the right areas.
Nevertheless, she forced herself to munch on some buttered toast and sip from a goblet of pumpkin juice. It was all she trusted her stomach to be able to keep down. The last thing she needed to do was to vomit all over the essay portion of her Herbology exam, then later on Professor Longbottom as he examined each of the Seventh years’ work in the practical portion. She was so on edge that she jumped out of her seat when she felt a hand on her shoulder, letting loose a yelp from between her lips.
“Easy,” came Finn’s soothing voice from behind her as she sat back down, turning in her seat to glance back at him. “I only came over here to see how you were holding up.”
“She needs a good slap across the face, that’s what she needs,” Mathis said, pointing his fork with a bit of egg yolk on it at Molly in a comic fashion. “She keeps fidgeting. These exams are only for practice, Mols, no need to get your britches in a twist now.”
“Come on,” Finn said, gently tugging on Molly’s hand to force her to stand. “I’m taking you to the Hospital Wing for a Calming Drought. You really could use one now.”
“I’m fine,” Molly grumbled, but allowed Finn to lead her out of the Great Hall without further argument. She was in a daze, only aware of his hand in hers, as they climbed staircase after staircase before finally reaching the Hospital Wing and entering.
“Madam Midgeon,” Finn called as they walked farther into the infirmary. “I have a patient who needs calming.”
Madam Eloise Midgeon bustled into the ward from her office in the back, took one look at Molly and sat her down on one of the white sheet covered, twin-sized beds as she went back to get a Calming Drought. Upon returning, she poured out a single dose portion into a medicine glass before handing it to Molly,
“Drink it all and tell me how you feel after.”
Molly drank the contents of the glass, doing her best to ignore the disgusting taste of it. She had never enjoyed drinking potions as a child, her parents had actually had to hold her down to force her to drink potions when she was sick, and nothing had changed since except she no longer needed to be held down. Once it was all gone, Molly held up the empty glass before setting it down on the nightstand beside where she sat.
“Any better?” Madam Midgeon asked pointedly.
Molly thought about it for a moment before nodding, she did feel a bit more relaxed than before. She was still anxious of her Herbology mock exam, but the Calming Drought had unknotted her muscles enough to where she need not feel worried anymore.
Nodding, Molly stood and left the infirmary with Finn after Madam Midgeon had said “good” before sending them on their way back down to the Great Hall. The other Seventh Years were all standing around in the Entrance Hall, waiting for the professors to swap the House tables for individual tables.
Molly stood there with Finn beside her, not saying anything, as Mathis and Erin came up to them to check on her. She found herself nodding and shaking her head to their questions, still not trusting herself to speak actual words. She was feeling better, but not enough to actually partake in a conversation. Then, Tyler joined their group and it was obvious Finn would had rather he not have come over.
“All set,” Tyler said, ever the chirpy lad he was. That only seemed anger Finn more as Professor Longbottom finally opened up the doors which led into the Great Hall,
“We’re ready for you now.”
Taking a deep breath, Molly concentrated solely on putting one foot in front of the other instead of on Finn’s obvious jealousy toward Tyler, whom was only a friend. She would talk to him about it, though it would have to wait until that weekend after mock exams were over. Now, well now she had to focus on her Herbology mock exam and hope she did not completely blow it or she would lose all hope in getting an Outstanding on her N.E.W.T. at the end of term.
When they were all seated at separate, individual round tables, Professor Longbottom passed out the mock exams and returned to the front to turn over the hour glass as they would only have a specific amount of time to complete it as if they really were taking their N.E.W.T.s. As soon as he gave the say so, Molly flipped the test over and was lost within its contents as she scribbled answers with her quill after reading and thinking every so often. By the time they had run out of time, she had been finished for a good five to ten minutes. She stood and left the Great Hall with the rest of her classmates so the professors could fix the Great Hall back up with the four house tables for lunch, then they would have the mock practical portion afterward.
Molly was a bundle of nerves over lunch, too. Finn had joined them at the Ravenclaw table to make sure she ate something, but she did not feel the need to eat anything. Never mind the fact she probably could not keep any food down. She may have taken a Calming Drought earlier, but she still had some nerves that were beginning to knot themselves back up in the pit of her stomach.
“You have to eat something, Molly,” Erin said. “It’ll help you concentrate better.”
She nibbled on some chips, dunking them in ketchup with each bite, until she felt she would not be able to hold anymore in her system.
“Well, let’s be thankful she ate, even a bit,” Finn said.
Then it was back into the Entrance Hall as the professors replaced the house tables with dozens of the individual round tables. Molly re-entered with her classmates to find a Snargaluff Stump atop each table waiting for them. Taking her place, she waited until receiving the say so from Professor Longbottom before getting started on collecting the round eggs and bursting them to spill the tubers into the dish that sat beside the stump on the table.
Once time was called, Professor Longbottom spent around an hour going around the Great Hall to give each student critique. He also let them know they would be given more plants/herbs to work with than the stumps, but he felt the stumps would suffice to prepare them as it was the hardest to maintain control over, all things considered.
Thus, the day was over and they still had other mock exams that week to complete, but somehow Molly was able to get through each without need of another Calming Drought. It surprised her friends, except for Finn for he knew why she was most anxious over Herbology than the others. Nonetheless, when the week ended, Molly found herself rushing around the dorm to make sure she packed all she would need over break. There was a gentle snow falling outside as she rode in the carriage into Hogsmeade with her friends to board the Hogwarts Express.
The ride went by too fast for Molly before the train was pulling up toward Platform Nine and Three Quarters. She did not want to have to say good-bye to Finn for a whole month. Yet, he somehow made it better by telling her he would write her and that they would meet somewhere at least once before term resumed in January.
“Molly, there you are,” came a voice that sounded an awful lot like her father’s. Molly looked over her shoulder, and sure enough saw her father coming her way.
“Yikes,” Molly said under breath, looking back at Finn. “I better go before he flips his lid. I’ll see you soon?”
Finn grinned that lopsided grin of his that made him look oh-so adorable. “Definitely, I’ll write you and we’ll figure it all out.”
It was with that final word said on Finn’s part which had Molly turning and dashing over toward where her father was. She gave him a hug back as he wrapped his arms around her before grabbing the handle of her trunk for her.
“Best be off, then,” Percy told his eldest daughter. “Your mother and sister have already headed through the barrier and are meeting us in the alley to Apparate home.”
Home. The word was enough to bring warmth within Molly, despite the frigidness of the air as she stepped out of the front entrance of King’s Station several minutes later. The snow crunched beneath her feet as she walked along the sidewalk toward the alley where her mother and Lucy were waiting for them. Once they were completely in the alley, Molly spun on the spot with a soft popping sound and appeared on the front walk leading up toward the wraparound porch. Looking up, she was able to spot the window that looked into her bedroom. She always loved the feeling she got upon arriving home for break.
No matter how much she would miss Finn, it was still nice to be home with her family. While she was sure her father would lecture her more, she did not care as all that mattered at the moment was that she was home for the next month.
“It would have been nice if you would have waited for the all clear before Disapparating, Molly,” Percy scolded his daughter as he Apparated with a loud crack beside her, shortly followed by her mother with Lucy wrapped in her arms. “You’re lucky no Muggles saw you disappear like that, no regard for the Statute of Secrecy.”
Molly rolled her eyes. “I’m not a baby.”
Her father was about to lecture her further, but she paid him no heed as she stomped up the snow covered walkway, the frost crunching under the soles of her shoes, and up the porch before entering the house. Her parents had put a charm on all the doors that led into the house to only admit the four of them when no one was home, unless otherwise modified, years ago.
She continued on her march up the stairs and into her room, throwing herself with a disgruntled sigh onto her window seat. Crossing her arms, she grabbed one of the throw pillows and buried her face into it before screaming. Her scream came out muffled, which meant the pillow was still doing its rightful job. She called it her Scream Pillow because it was the pillow she used to muffle her screams and curses into anytime her parents, mainly her father, frustrated her.
It was several minutes as she sat and stewed before there was a knock on her closed bedroom door. As much as she would have loved to tell her parents to go away, she did not have it in her to go that far. Therefore, she told them it was open, and in walked both her mother and father.
“We’re really not going to take this kind of attitude, Molly,” his father started in his warning tone. “It would be nice if we could all have a nice time. It is your last winter break home as you’ll be off on your own after you finish this term at Hogwarts.”
“What your father means,” her mother amended, “is that we’ll try if you try, too. Meaning, both of you will need to set aside everything to ensure the break is a fun one.”
Molly really loved her mother for being the peacekeeper she was. It was obvious that Audrey had been a Hufflepuff by her sheer patience, nourishment, and loyalty toward her family. They were all the traits Lucy had inherited from their mother, while Molly got her father’s traits, which was why she butted heads with him so often. She and her father were so much alike that they fought over everything imaginable, specifically what Molly was going to do with her life after Hogwarts. But, he was coming around, that much was evident from their argument in Hogsmeade.
“Now, while we’re all here,” Audrey continued, as though she were not chastising her husband and eldest daughter, “I think it best to say what we have to say now, and then make a pact not to talk about it for the rest of break. Just get it all off of our chests now.”
“I have nothing to say,” Molly said resolutely, hugging her Scream Pillow to her chest.
“Well, I do,” Percy said. “How did your mock exams go?”
Molly shrugged. “I’ll know how I did when I return back to school next month.”
“How do you feel you did?” he pushed.
“Alright, I suppose.”
“Just alright,” Percy continued to push, “or better than alright?”
“That’s enough, Perce,” Audrey said, sighing. “No more pushing Molly about school. She said she’ll find out after break, until then let’s just enjoy our time together.”
“Fair enough,” Percy said, relenting to his wife.
There were a few minutes of silence between the three of them before her parents finally exited her bedroom. She was alone, finally alone at last. However, now she found her mind drifting toward a certain Slytherin. Shaking her head, Molly decided to go find Lucy. If anyone could make her forget what was on her mind, it was her little sister.
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