Chapter 3 : Returning Home
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Author's Note: So, I meant to finish this and have it posted this past weekend, but I wound up going on a date on Friday and then had to work Saturday and Sunday so I wasn't able to finish it to post. Then I spent the last two days finishing up my Christmas shopping and visited my aunt with my mom and grandma. But enough excuses, point is, I managed to finish chapter three today. Hope you all enjoy it! Things will pick up in the next chapter... not saying how it picks up... have to keep secrets for the surprises to mean something throughout this story. :)
Lovely chapter image made by Branwen @TDA!
The seaside restaurant was bustling with activity as Molly made her way through the crowds of people toward the table she had first spotted a few of her co-workers at upon a quick scan. The harder part was navigating her way over there, but eventually she reached their table and plopped down in the booth next to Jules. It was their usual table in the all-wizard restaurant, their first choice when they decided to grab a bite after work and it was only natural to dine-in on the night before Molly was to leave for England to visit family for a few months.
“About time you showed,” Lance said. “We were beginning to think you had decided to take off tomorrow without seeing our pretty faces before you left.”
Molly laughed, “Wouldn’t dream of it.”
“Good,” James said, “Because we wouldn’t have stood for you ditching out on dinner either way.”
“They had already started formulating a plan to kidnap you from your bed,” Jules informed her with a wink. “Of course, now they’re upset they won’t be able to carry it out. You should have heard them scheming, the plan really was elaborately laid out. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say they had already come up with this plan in advance, but these two are known for coming up with things on the fly, as you very well know, too.”
“Hey, we take pride in our ability to come up with our... uh, projects,” Lance said in defence to Jules’s judgement of the two guys. “Isn’t that right, Jamie?”
Jules rolled her eyes in response, feeling it was a lost cause to argue with the two guys seated across from them. Actually, Jules probably could have won the argument since her friend was dating Jamie and she had him wrapped around her little finger, but she probably chose not to embarrass him in front of his best mate.
“That’s right,” Jamie said, feeling brave. “Of course, we could still run it, but since Molly already knows due to Jules’s big mouth—”
“I so do not have a big mouth!”
“Uh, you kind of do,” Molly said, hesitatingly joining the conversation, causing Jules to turn to her with a sharp, level gaze that clearly said she was not helping. “But you do. Not that it’s a bad thing since you’ve tipped me off on more than one occasion when these two are up to no good and I can’t thank you enough.”
“And don’t you forget it,” Jules huffed, crossing her arms in front of her in contempt.
“I think you upset her,” Lance whispered to Jamie, only it was just loud enough to carry across the table.
All Jamie did was glare at his best mate, which caused the girls to laugh. It was all a show as the guys never actually fought, they were that good of friends.
“Anyway, let’s get on with the meal,” Jules said, raising her hand to signal their waitress that the final person in their party had arrived and they were ready to order. “I’m sure Molly would like to get home at a reasonable time to get a decent amount of sleep before her early morning Portkey at the ministry.”
“I still can’t believe you’re actually going to be gone for three whole months,” Lance said. “What will we do without you at the greenhouse? You’re the sanest of the lot and without you we’re all go completely bonkers.”
“I’m sure you’ll manage,” Molly said, laughing.
“Besides,” Jules said. “Molly has a mission to complete while in England when she isn’t spending her time with anyone of her large family.”
Molly’s jaw dropped before she recovered herself enough to respond coherently. “You don’t mean... you can’t mean...” Or as coherent as one can when they are being set up. “You can’t possibly be implying what I think you are.”
“That depends,” Jules replied, a smirk forming on her smug face. “If what you’re thinking is finally confessing your love for a certain young man while you’re in England, then yes, I’d say we’re on the same exact page.”
“But I never said I loved him before.”
“No, but you didn’t deny having those feelings for him,” Jules reminded her. “You said yourself that it might have grown into love had you not broken up with him.”
“Might,” Molly said, plucking out the word and holding on to it with that same stubborn determination she had inherited from her father. “I said it might have led to love, not that it was love. There’s a difference.”
“Sure there is,” Jules said conversationally, raising her brows.
The group continued talking and eating their food when it was brought out as the night wore on. Molly knew she should turn in early since she had an early Portkey in the morning, but she was having so much fun she lost track of the time. So much fun, in fact, that it was not until almost eleven by the time she was leaving the restaurant with the others.
“Don’t forget to write while you’re off having fun in England, you hear,” Jules told her as they walked down the steps and the group of friends made to split up. “I want to hear every detail of what happens with you and Finn because I know you’ll cave and look him up in London.”
Molly sighed. “Fine, but I can already tell you nothing will happen. That ship has sailed; I lost my chance with Finn when I broke up with him.”
“Sure you did,” Jules said, not believing Molly one bit. “Just keep me informed, will you?”
“I will,” Molly relented.
Molly watched as Jules and James both turned on the spot to Apparate to their apartment. She was now left standing with Lance, whom she had dated briefly before they had both decided they made better friends. Turning, Molly decided she wanted to walk the couple blocks home instead of Apparating since it was such a nice, clear night with the stars twinkling down over the Sydney, Australia on her last night. She would not enjoy the splendours of Australia for a few months, which would seem ages while in England with its rainy weather.
“C’mon, I’ll walk with you,” Lance said, catching up to her and grabbing her hand in his. “No pretty woman should have to walk home alone in the dark.”
Molly rolled her eyes at the cheesiness of Lance’s line, but kept her hand in his regardless.
“So, tell me more about this Finn character,” Lance said.
“There’s not much to tell.”
“I’ll be the judge of that,” Lance replied. “You seem like you have a lot of history with him.”
“Well, he was the most serious boyfriend I had back home,” Molly replied. “In fact, none of the guys I’ve dated here could even hold a candle to how I felt about him.”
“Not even me?” Lance smirked.
“Not even you,” Molly confirmed, grinning.
“I’m only joking,” Lance said. “It would have never worked out with us either way.”
Molly shook her head, agreeing with him. “We’re just better friends.”
“What about Finn, were the two of you friends before you dated?”
Molly nodded simply.
“And how did things change between you two?”
“They just did,” Molly said. “One moment we were studying and the next our lips were touching. It just happened without explanation.”
Molly was feeling self-conscious talking about her and Finn’s relationship like she was in the open. There was not anyone around to listen in, only the occasional passing car, but she still felt like the night had ears that was hanging onto every word she was saying. Like it was going to hold her accountable to what she said.
It was why it came as somewhat of a relief when the pair of them finally approached the building that she lived in. She stopped on the bottom step and turned around to face Lance,
“Night,” Molly said. “I’ll see you when I get back in September.”
“At which point the cool weather will have passed and the warm will come back in,” Lance said. “You get two summers in a row this year.”
Molly rolled her eyes. “I miss having heaps of snow for Christmas, like we get back home.”
“Crazy talk,” Lance replied. “No one actually enjoys snow.”
“I like it.”
Lance just shook his head as though he could not believe what he was hearing. “I hope you decide to come back, then. No changing your mind and deciding to move back indefinitely.”
“Oh, don’t worry, I love it too much here to move back,” Molly said, reassuring her friend. “Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going up to my flat to get some sleep before I have to be up early to catch a Portkey to the northern half of the world.”
“Alright, hope you have a nice vacation with your family,” Lance said, hugging her briefly. “I’ll miss your voice of reason to stop Jamie and I from getting into more trouble.”
Molly laughed as she hugged him back as she bid him good-bye before turning and heading into the building. She took the stairs up to the third floor to her flat and wasted no time changing into her jammies and collapsing into bed, instantly falling asleep once she had set a timed alarm on her wand to wake her up.
The morning felt rushed as Molly dashed around her apartment collecting last minute things to add to her trunk before Apparating to the Australian Ministry of Magic. She was surprised to find the ministry a bustle of activity as she appeared in the lobby with workers streaming in from a couple fireplaces that lined the wall, or just appearing from thin air like she had.
Walking over toward the front desk, it was made of glossy, cherry wood and was manned by a young wizard in his mid-to-late twenties, who appeared to already be buried in a mound of paperwork. She had to clear her throat a couple times before he noticed Molly was standing before him.
“Could you point me in the direction of the Magical Transportation Department?”
“Of course,” the young man said, albeit distractedly. “Take the lift down to the fifth floor, which are located at the end of the hall,” he motioned with his head as he shuffled through papers. “Then it’s the first door on the left.”
“Thank you,” Molly said, then headed off in search of the lifts and took them down the fifth floor as he had instructed. It was a good thing the department was easy to locate once she was off the lift and found a seat in the front waiting room in Magical Transportation after signing in. There were a couple others waiting, too. A family with two small children that ran around with fake wands held in each chubby, little hand and shooting made-up spells at each other. The whole scene made Molly smile since it reminded her of her cousins when they were all younger.
She smiled naturally while watching the kids before a ministry official announced that they were preparing the London Portkey now. She stood, along with a middle-aged couple that spoke with a Scottish accent; they must have been vacationing in Australia.
When she entered the room where they were sending them off, the ministry official held out a rolled up newspaper for them to grasp and the moment he let go she felt a hook behind her naval as it yanked her and the other two passengers through time and space before they arrived in the London’s Ministry of Magic’s Department of Magical Transportation.
“Welcome to London, folks,” said a very familiar voice, too familiar.
Molly looked up and instantly wished she were invisible for the young man standing before her was none other than Finn’s right-hand man, Nott. Or at least they had been best friends while they were at Hogwarts. She prayed he would not notice her, even though he appeared to be studying her with intense concentration in an attempt to figure out if it were really Molly and not some imposter.
“What brings you back to England?” Nott asked, finally deciding it was in fact her.
“I’m visiting family,” Molly said tersely.
“Are you planning on seeing Finn at all while you’re in town?”
Molly felt her cheeks flush, but could not summon up enough words to respond. All she managed was to clear her throat a few times to no avail before turning away from him and dragging her trunk from the office. She dragged it to the lifts and waited as it worked its way down to the Atrium, passing stopping at the other floors in between. She knew she probably should not have run off like she had and answered Nott’s question, but she had no idea how to answer it.
She had not made any effort to look Finn up the few short visits she had been in town, but somehow it felt different that time. Almost like she needed to see him while she was back for an extended stay, but would Finn care to see her? A part of her wanted to believe he did want to see her, but another part of her hoped he wanted to see her as much as she did him.
It was then, when the lift’s grilles opened on the second floor—Magical Law Enforcement and Auror Headquarters—that Declan entered. At first she thought he did not recognise her, but then he did a double take.
“Molly,” Declan said, “What are you doing here? I thought you were working in Australia?”
“I am,” Molly said. “I only just arrived via Portkey. I’m spending the summer with my parents; they’ve been complaining that they never see me anymore and how much they miss me, so since it’s slow around this time with it being winter in Australia, I decided to spend it here.”
“That sounds great,” Declan replied, smile in place. “Does Finn know your back?”
Molly shook her head, immediately clamming back up.
“Oh look, no pressure,” Declan said, noticing her discomfort. “I know things didn’t work out with you two, but that’s no reason why you still can’t be friends.”
“I know, it’s just...”
“You still have feelings for him, don’t you?” Declan said, the question coming out more rhetorically since they both knew the answer already. “It’s alright to admit. Heck, I think it is great news if you still do because he still can’t get you off his mind no matter how hard he tries.”
Molly looked down, not knowing how to respond to that. She had found herself wishing Finn still had feelings for her a lot in the past couple days when she caught herself thinking of him, but somehow the truth did not make her as happy as she thought it would. If Finn had refused to move on and find someone because of her than she would never forgive herself for breaking things off the way she had. She did not deserve someone as amazing as Finn, that much had been plain when she turned her back on him.
“Look,” Declan said, breaking into her thoughts, “I won’t tell him you’re back if you promise you’ll at least write him a letter. He deserves to hear it from you. If you don’t want to give things another chance, then that’s completely up to you, but don’t hide from him. Think on it.”
It was at that moment the golden lift grilles slid open once more as the cool, female voice announced that they had arrived on the Atrium floor. Molly said good-bye to Declan with the promise of writing to Finn, and then she exited the lift and waved before the lift closed back up to take Declan down to the courtrooms. She sighed before turning and heading over toward the closest fireplace and grabbing a pinch of silvery Floo powder from a pot on the mantle and stepping in after tossing the dust into the flames.
After she said her parents’ address, Molly felt herself spin as green flames danced around her with warmth. There were fireplaces zipping by on either side of her until she finally stumbled out of fireplace in her parents’ living room. She barely had time to brush off the ash from her clothes before her mother, Audrey, pulled her into a hug.
“Oh, I’m so glad we’ve got you the whole summer,” Audrey said, stepping away to hold Molly at arm’s length to inspect her well-being. “You look thin as a rail; you know your Nana will fuss over you if you don’t put on a few extra pounds while you’re here.”
Molly rolled her eyes. “I know, but I’m comfortable the way I am. I’ve finally lost the little pudge I had growing up.”
“Please,” Audrey said, waving her hand to the side for emphasis. “You have always been thin, Molly.”
Of course she had been thin, Molly thought to herself, but had still had some baby fat all throughout her adolescent years from when she had been a kid. At least now she had lost that and looked like the adult she was. She had matured in appearance and mind.
“Dad still at work, then,” Molly asked, knowing the answer already.
Audrey nodded. “He’ll be home in a couple hours for dinner, and Lucy is coming over, too.”
“Sounds like a heap of fun,” Molly replied sarcastically, “The whole family back under one roof for dinner.”
“Oh, hush,” Audrey scolded her eldest. “It’ll be a great dinner, I’m making your favourite.”
“Of course,” Audrey said, “as if I’d forget what my own daughter’s comfort food.”
Molly smiled. She had missed her mother the most since she had last been home. Her mother knew exactly how to make her happy. Though, her dad was not a complete stick in the mud, despite his still not understanding that Molly did not want to work an eight to five desk job like him and her younger sister. He meant well, but she wished he could see that she liked getting her hands all soiled and dirty each day with the sun shining down on her through the glass panes of the greenhouse.
She looked out into the backyard for lack of anything to say, and that was when she saw it. It was a greenhouse at the end of the hilly, sloping lawn.
“Yes,” Audrey said in response to her unfinished question. “Your father and I thought you might get bored without work to keep you preoccupy over the summer so he had a green house be brought in.”
“But that must have cost a fortune.”
“You let us worry about the cost,” Audrey said. “Just think of it as a late Christmas gift since you didn’t come this past winter.”
“Thanks mum,” Molly fell into her mother’s arms.
“Now, the greenhouse isn’t alive with plants growing in it yet,” Audrey said, “but we figured you would prefer it that way so you could create it the way you want it. It’ll be your own sanctuary.”
“I love it,” Molly said, wishing she could go down to the greenhouse to start planting that minute, but if she started now than she would never stop and dinner would be in a few hours.
“Go,” Audrey said, reading her daughter’s mind. “I’ll call for you when dinner’s ready.”
Molly gave her mother one more hug before she dashed out the back door and down the lawn to the greenhouse. Her greenhouse. She had her very own greenhouse. And what was more, her father had paid for it for her. Could it be he was finally coming around? Maybe, or it might be a gift in an attempt to persuade her to start working at the Ministry of Magic. But she did not want to think that way. She wanted to believe her father was finally coming around.
Her own green house, the thought kept swirling around her mind as she opened the door and entered. There were empty ceramic pots and plants still in the plastic pots they came in, as if waiting for her to transfer them to their new, permanent homes. It took her no time at all to set to work, still grinning as she dug and planted. Her parents had made a very happy daughter of her.
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