At seventeen life was all about production; exam results, ideas, people worth your time – finding things to fall in love with, and then running with it...
Everything about the seventeenth year of her life was that little bit better than the previous teen years. The change had been coming for while, but it certainly felt much more real when Molly was suddenly ‘of age.’ Realistically the only change between being sixteen and seventeen was that she was allowed to do magic (and the addition of her mother’s choice of archaic watch, which she had yet to accidentally flush down a toilet), but Molly found that fact strange enough in itself; she hadn’t actually been able to exploit this new freedom yet, but soon enough the Christmas holidays would start and she would be able to drive Roxanne crazy by throwing magic in a face at every occasion. Maybe quite literally, too, because all her older family members had taught her there was nothing quite as funny as performing magic on someone who was not old enough to undo it.
It was possible they had taught her this a little too well.
All the classmates and friends that cluttered up Molly’s life were shifting. For a start, the short eleven year olds boys she’d eaten with on her first day of Hogwarts now all seemed to tower above her and were often to be found talking about ‘working out’ (Molly hadn’t realised this is something people actually did, or how competitive males could be about things that were seated in vanity). It had been a bit of a shock to return after the summer and find that most of them were bordering on six foot when previously she’d been level with them. Since this she had concluded that growing upwards did not necessarily mean growing up.
The change in the girls who she’d shared a dorm with had been less pronounced and given the amount of time she spent in their company she hadn’t really noticed. But at some point, although she couldn’t quite tell you when, they’d all stopped looking like children playing dress-up.
Molly was beginning to realise that it was unnecessary to get quite so angry all the time: she felt like she’d spent every day since she was thirteen fighting everyone in the world just to assert herself as actually having a personality, which apparently was this big surprising thing. She’d been placed in a box at eleven years old and six years later the realisation that she didn’t actually care was beginning to hit home. She was learning that she didn’t have to be quite so resistant to absolutely everything, and it was quite acceptable for her to follow the crowd every once in awhile.
The older she became the more she began to realise how young she was.
Everything was better now though; anorexia levels were down on previous years and the only self harmers left were those who hid their scars. As everyone slowly shifted into a higher state where it was just about possible to feel comfortable with yourself, levels of angst were no longer required to make you interesting and drama had been redefined as ‘tiresome’ rather than inanely fascinating. People were more accepting, certainly, and for the first time in her life Molly was beginning to feel like she wasn’t being judged for every decision she ever made.
“Molly, is this supposed to be a bra?” Erin demanded as Molly emerged from the bathroom after brushing her teeth on the last Saturday before term ended for the Christmas holiday.
Of course there were still side effects: remnants of teenage angst not yet dissolved by experience.
“Oh God,” Roxanne said, looking up from where she was packing her trunk, “don’t start with Molly and her bras – she has a flat chested complex.”
“I’m sorry?” Erin asked, passing the offending article between her hands and raising her slightly over plucked eyebrows at her, “Molly, that’s not a bra – it’s practically a boob-job.”
“I like padded bras,” Molly said, flushing slightly and holding her hand out for it.
“No, I like padded bras,” Roxanne said, “you just like lying.”
“Explain,” Erin said, poking the gel bra and throwing herself back on her bed.
“Everyone thinks I’m flat chested,” Molly muttered, snatching the bra and folding it down the side of her trunk, “and I’m not – the bra just confirms the fact.”
“By doubling your chest size,” Simrath commented, “smart.”
Molly very deliberately shut the lid of her trunk. The bra thing was an issue Roxanne liked to bring up whenever she’d deemed that Molly was being overly critical or irrational. Molly Weasley was not vain; it was just that after years spent being slightly picked on and worn down there had been occasion when her self esteem had taken a hit –thus convincing herself that everyone viewed her as an unattractive twit with all the sex appeal of a curried gherkin (it wasn’t that she wanted everyone to think she was attractive, she just didn’t want everyone to think she was unattractive). And so, she wore absurdly padded ‘bust booster’ bras. It was nothing to be ashamed of, exactly.
“What would happen if we burst one of them?” Erin asked with a pretty grin, “what’s the gel actually like?”
“Stand on one and find out,” Roxanne said dryly, “so I’m all packed – finished everyone?”
“Wait,” Erin said, deliberating for a second, “do I need to bring both trunks home – or just one?”
Erin liked clothes. No, Molly liked clothes (well, she wore clothes) but unlike Erin she didn’t have a sort of addiction to purchasing new things every two minutes so she had something different to wear every weekend (once, Erin had been called an ‘outfit repeater’ and now she was a chronic shopaholic – these sorts of things happened to everyone, Molly reasoned, and anyway if Lucy hadn’t spent years pointing out how she had a bigger chest then maybe everything would have been fine...).
“It’s two weeks,” Molly shrugged, “how many skirts can you need?”
“Fourteen?” Roxanne suggested, “look, decide later – I need to go meet Wilson.”
“Go on your own then,” Erin said, “this is important.”
“You need to see Tom too,” Roxanne said, “might as well go together.”
“If I see him he might dump me,” Erin said, “maybe I do need two suitcases?”
“Don’t be daft, Erin – why would he dump you?” Simrath said, “you guys have been going out for like...ages,” Erin shrugged glumly and started folding up her socks. Roxanne bit her lip.
“Eighteen months,” Molly prompted, “that’s a long time.”
“Yeah, and he’s fed up of me,” Erin said, “before me he could just flirt with whoever and I just, eurgh, I know he’s going to break up with me. I’m not stupid.”
“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do over the holidays,” Roxanne said, “I mean, given Dad ruled that Wilson can’t stay over.”
“-he said he could stay for two nights, Roxanne,” Molly said impatiently, “quit whining about it – can you imagine what my Dad would say if asked him if I could have a guy stay for a week?”
“In Fred’s room!” Roxanne complained, “do you know what the means, Molly? No sex for two weeks!”
Erin laughed, running her hands through her hair and shutting her second trunk decisively. The boyfriend talk had continued from last year, only this time Molly was either treated to Erin and Roxanne discussing everything and anything to do with sex (although actually, Molly supposed that this time last year had been when all that had started) comparing just about anything and everything they could think of, or else they would complain about the woes of being in love and having a boyfriend (the constant fear of being dumped, missing the other person, not having as much time and having to deal with unnecessary arguments when they were being stupid) whilst continually assuring Molly that she was lucky she didn’t have a boyfriend.
They seemed to think that by ‘dating’ they’d picked up gems of knowledge that Molly could only dream of (unlikely) and that they were therefore more mature. Molly hated people thinking that they were better than her. Sure, she was beginning to accept that being the best at everything was both tiring, unnecessary and impossible – so she’d stopped being quite so anal about her grades and creating arguments with people just to prove that she knew more than they did (unless they were being ignorant, because then they were asking for it), but she still hated it when people assumed she would be rubbish at something for no reason.
“He loves you,” Roxanne said, “forget about it."
“Fine,” Erin said, hoping to her feet and glancing in the mirror briefly, “coming, guys?”
“Not to watch you snog, no.” Molly said.
“I’ve got to finish this letter,” Simrath said, “then I’ve got a detention – so I’ll see you all at lunch.”
“I’ll see if there’s anyone in the common room or something.” Molly sighed.
“Two weeks,” Roxanne complained, “letters just aren’t the same, you know?”
“Sneak him in.” Dexter suggested, looking up from the table he was working at and raising an eyebrow.”
“Grow a pair.” Molly suggested.
“Get a life, Molly.” Dexter added.
“No, just for kicks.”
“Right, well,” Molly said sitting down opposite him on the desk, “those two are ditching me, so I guess you’re my entertainment for the next couple of hours.”
“I’m trying to work, actually.” Dexter said lightly.
“Get a life.”
“Touché,” Dexter said, setting his quill back on his desk and looking up at her, “what did you want me to do?”
“What do you want to do with your life, Dex?” Molly asked lightly, glancing up at the ceiling for a moment.
“I’m going to move to Australia.”
“Really?” Molly asked, looking at him unexpectedly.
“No,” Dexter said, “but it would be a great way to avoid you. Anyway, Molls, how long have we known each other? How do you still not know the answer to the question?”
“Well, mostly I don’t listen to a word you say, but if you’re meaning ‘pissing me off’ then I didn’t realise that was your whole future plan.”
“It’s certainly part of it,” Dexter said, “I want to be a curse breaker.”
“So you need pretty good grades?”
“Yeah,” Dexter said, “but sadly, I got distracted by a certain Molly Weasley asking me stupid questions and therefore, it’s probably never going to happen.”
“Ah, well – maybe you could move to Australia?”
“As long as you don’t follow me.”
“I’m not promising anything; I might miss you too much. Although I admit it’s unlikely. How’s all the muscle work going?” Molly asked, pointedly nodding towards Dexter’s ever expanding arms with an eyebrow raise. Recently her male friends had been vastly unoriginal in their attempts to outdo each other – she rather thought that none of them could beat Ian (although his muscles weren’t good muscles – she strongly suspected that his arms were bigger than her freaking waist), and that Zak would always be the weedy runt.
“Brilliantly, as you can see,” Dexter said, stretching out his arms, “how are Erin and Tom?”
“She thinks he’s going to dump her.” Molly said.
“Why would you ask me about something like that?” Molly asked, crossing her arms and shaking her head at him.
“Point. How’s life as a spinster going?”
“Wonderfully,” Molly returned, nice and relaxing, “you ever been in love, Dex?”
“Apart from with you?” Dexter suggested dryly.
“Well, that goes without saying,” Molly returned, “everyone’s in love with me.”
“True, and yes,” Dexter said, “what’s with all the big questions?”
“Nearly half way through Sixth year, a lot’s going to change. We’re going to be like... adults and such,”
“Some of us are.”
“God, you’re the limit. I think I’d rather go watch Erin get her heartbroken.”
“Go then,” Dexter said, “I’m busy anyways.”
“Argh, don’t be dull,” Molly said, leaning on the desk and glancing round the common room for anyone else she could talk to, “I’ve eaten fruit with more conversational skills than you – give me something I can work with here.”
“Okay, Molly, have you ever been in love? Other than with yourself?”
“I fell in love with this pasta once; it was the best thing I’ve ever eaten,” Molly suggested, taking Dexter’s book from the other side of the table and flicking through it, “but other than that, I’d say no...”
“Maybe you should get yourself boyfriend and quit inflicting your company on me.”
“Who the hell would I fall in love with around here?” Molly questioned, glancing around the common room again, “God, what are my options? Rodger? Zak? Ian?”
“Make one out of dead corpses,” Dexter suggested, “then you could make one to fit your needs.”
“What? Agrees with everything I say?”
“Nah, Molly, you love the arguing.”
“See, I do love some things,” Molly grinned, “I’m not soulless, like Erin would have you believe.”
“People are rubbish. Anyway, love is just so... it’s so bloody abstract, you know? I wouldn’t even know if I was in love. I’d probably just pretend I wasn’t because I’m messed up like that."
“You said it,” Dexter said, shutting his text book with the look of someone who was just about to give up, “oh who cares,” he muttered, “it’s nearly Christmas – now, the others are playing exploding snap in the dorm, you wanna to come?”
“Not particularly,” Molly said, “but as you asked so nicely.”
“Are you sure you can fit it in around your busy schedule?”
“For you, Dex, I’d do anything,” Molly said, accompanied with sarcasm so thick you could taste it and an unimpressed crossing of the arms.
Yeah, at seventeen years old Molly was beginning to learn not to be quite so darn bitter.
“Oh, bugger,” Simrath said, the first one to join Molly in the dorm that evening with her face scrunched up in displeasure, “Molly, I’m going to fail everything – I just had the detention with Longbottom, and he asked me this really stupid question and my mind just went blank. He went really pink and was like ‘Miss Virdee, do you realise that was a first year level question’ I’ve never been so embarrassed in my life.”
“Neville said that?” Molly asked, “Merlin, Sim, what was the question? Was it like what makes plants grow? Sunlight and water, or...?”
“Something about Devil Snare,” Simrath said, throwing herself onto her bed and burying her face in her pillow, “I’m going to fail everything Molly!”
“It’s just Herbology,” Molly said, “that’s not everything, and anyway you’re not going to fail. You always pull it back at the end, and... You’ve got a year this time.”
“But the exams are so important,” Simrath said, sitting up again and running her hands through her hair distractedly – a habit which usually ended up with Simrath’s hair being three times the normal size and her getting even more stressed out by the levels of self-inflicted frizz, “what if we just mess up? We need these grades!”
“It will be fine,” Molly said, “and don’t take it out on your hair; you know it’ll only make things worse. I don’t do Herbology, but maybe get one of the others to help you out? Or you could always ask Neville, he’d be delighted if you asked for extra help. No point stressing about it now, the holidays start tomorrow.”
“Okay,” Sim said, “you’re so wise Molly.”
“You were talking about concrete stuff,” Molly said, lying back on her bed and staring at the ceiling, “none of this... love stuff floating around.”
“Abstract nouns again?”
“Precisely,” Molly said, glancing over at her friend, “I can sort grades and stuff. Things you can just produce, they’re easy. Not love and things though.”
“I’ve never been in love either, if that helps,” Simrath said, “can you be in love if you’ve never really dated anyone, though? I mean, none of this love at first sight stuff... just... it’s got to take time,”
“Who knows?” Molly asked the ceiling (she wasn’t particularly sure whether she was expecting an answer – stranger things had happened at Hogwarts) , just as the door banged open an Erin appeared, her normally perfect hair flying around her face. Molly sat up quickly and watched as Erin disappeared into the bathroom, half closing the door behind her.
Moments later Roxanne appeared behind her, seemingly out of breath, and shook her head “I don’t know,” Roxanne said simply, “she didn’t...”
Molly rolled off her bed and tentatively pushed open the bathroom door. Erin was leaning against the counter in the bathroom looking very pale.
“Did he...?” Roxanne asked, acting as Molly’s shadow as they gingerly stepped into the bathroom. Roxanne took her place next to Erin against the bathroom counter, Simrath took the seat on the edge of the bathtub leaving Molly to put down the toilet lid and perch there.
“He said he wants to talk,” Erin said quietly, “he says that he wants to meet me tomorrow before the train goes and that we ‘need to talk’.”
“Oh god, I’m sorry Erin,” Roxanne said, “he’s a bastard for doing it right before Christmas.”
“No he’s not,” Erin said, “he’s not a bastard! This way I’ve got two weeks to sort of, get over it a bit. Before school and everything, he’s not a bastard if he were a bastard then... but he’s not, he just doesn’t want me anymore.”
“That’s not true,” Simrath added, “I’m sure that’s not true at all.”
“Look, maybe he’s not going to break up with you,” Molly suggested carefully, “maybe he... maybe he just wants to talk?”
“Don’t be stupid, Molly,” Erin spat out, “of course he’s going to break up with me! That’s what ‘we need to talk’ means – it means I’m going to break up with you tomorrow. He’s just letting me know in advance so I don’t like, make a fool of myself by crying on him. He’s so considerate.”
Molly didn’t particularly like being called stupid, but then what really did she know about love? She could think herself superior to her friends all she liked, but when it came down to it she had nothing better to offer Erin than something that was apparently ‘stupid’ – and she couldn’t even argue her case otherwise. All the insight she had about all things relationships were mostly due to watching her parent’s strange marriage, or one of the large variety of couples to chose from within her family: she’d watched Rose’s relationship with Scorpius from afar; watched Ron and Hermione’s arguments; seen the comical affair with Roxanne and Rodger; she’d seen her grandparent’s gravitate around themselves and their children and she’d seen her male cousin’s regular casual flings with girls of all different sorts of varieties.
She could call that experience all she liked, but when it came down to it she had more experience trying to remove stains from her clothes so her mother didn’t chastise her for being clumsy than she did with the ins and outs of relationships.
Molly Weasley was a seventeen year old girl who knew more complicated cleaning than dating. Sometimes, Molly was easily able to shrug this off her shoulders but occasionally she wondered how she could be so determined to know everything and leave some things so woefully uncovered?
It wasn’t like she’d never had a boyfriend. She had somehow manage to produce one once (it wasn’t her fault, either, he’d been the one to initiate it) and it had been a pain in the arse. There were levels of awkwardness that made her want to weep (as if Molly wasn’t already hideously awkward without adding a supposed boyfriend into the mixture) and he – Jack Smythe, Hufflepuff’s resident creeper – had continually followed her around like a lost puppy for three bloody weeks before she’d managed to get shot of the bloke. Mostly she preferred saying she’d never had a boyfriend to admitting to any association with him, but it had happened – she’d had a boyfriend. She’d never had a relationship though.
Not like Erin who just by being her pretty ,blonde, nice self always managed to have some guy hanging around her – passing her notes in class, seeking her out in the hallway and flirting with her - wanting to take away her title of singledom and date her. Even Tom, who’d previously been known as a bit of a flirt had been interested to the point of eighteen months. It wasn’t like Molly was jealous; it was just that she flat out did not understand.
And that was what bothered her.
She could maintain the fact that she didn’t care about anything to do with boys and relationships and vanity all she liked, but the fact still remained that she wore ‘bust booster’ bras and tried a little too hard to understand.
“I always thought he wasn’t good enough for you, anyway.” Roxanne said, wrapping an arm around her. Erin wasn’t crying, but staring at the carpet of the bathroom as if she was in a state of extreme shock. Molly tried very hard to comprehend what it might be like to lose someone you had spent eighteen months of your life with so intimately, but mostly she drew up a blank. She imagined it was pretty damn shit, but she couldn’t invoke an emotional response in herself. Maybe Erin had a stain that she needed help with or something, then Molly could actually make herself useful?
Roxanne sent Molly a look and, very helpfully, mouthed ‘insult him.’ Later, Molly made a note to thank Roxanne and maybe allow her fifteen minutes of unadulterated bitching about how her father was a ginger fascist for not letting Wilson sleep in her bed for two weeks, because if there was one thing Molly was good at it was insulting people. And stain-removal (she’d got ink stains down now – but was still coming up with a blank when it came to mud).
“Honestly, Erin, you’re well shot of him,” Roxanne continued.
“Doesn’t his slight lisp really piss you off?” Molly asked, “because it’s not even all the time, just when he reads stuff out from textbook or letters or whatever.”
“His voice is so low too!” Simrath exclaimed, “I can’t hear what he says most of the time.”
“And that stupid walk,” Roxanne said, “you know you always told me how that annoyed you?”
“He’s so in love with himself, anyway,” Molly continued, “his own opinion of his self worth is so grossly miscalculated, I actually find it physically difficult not to make snide comments about simple addition whenever I’m near him.”
“And he uses you to show off to his friends, sometimes,” Simrath added, “bit of a tosser, really.”
Erin remained completely silent and looked at the floor. Molly sent a desperate look at Roxanne as if to try and communicate the fact that it wasn’t working. If anything with every insult Erin was beginning to look even paler.
“Molly,” Roxanne said eventually, “have you finally plucked your eyebrows?”
“Yes,” Molly said, folding her arms and shaking her head at her.
“Thank God,” Roxanne grinned, “I was beginning to think I’d have to put a waxing strip on your emerging monobrow whilst you were asleep,”
Erin let out a breathy laugh.
“Really, Roxy, I know the future you intended for those waxing strips – so don’t you dare put them anywhere near my face,” Molly returned, watching as Erin smiled again – she bit her lip and closed her eyes for a second, “anyway,” Molly continued, spurred on by the success of the previous comment, “at least you can see my eyebrows,”
“And your moustache,” Roxanne added in a sing song voice.
“I don’t have a moustache!” Molly said, bringing a hand subconsciously to her face, “my face is completely bald, thank you very much.”
“Well, you do have a little moustache.”
“I’ve never in my life had a moustache.”
“Come on, admit it Mols -”
“- I don’t believe in lying.”
“You lie about your chest size!”
“I emphasise my chest size!”
“You’re a dirty liar, Molly Weasley.” Roxanne declared loudly. Erin was now watching the comments fly between them, the verbal duel of sorts, with a fond sort of smile across her face.
“Fine,” Molly said, “I’ll get some normal bras.”
“Seriously?” Simrath asked, looking up at her in surprise, “you’re losing the padding?”
“Erin can stab them if she like,” Molly shrugged, burying her hands in the pockets of her robes and looking up at her, “see what happens when you burst one.”
“You don’t know how long I’ve been waiting for this day,” Roxanne said, hoisting herself up so she was sat on the sink – the taps digging into her back as she kicked her legs, “we’ll throw a goodbye party.”
“Everyone’s going to be pretty damn confused when your chest disappears.” Simrath grinned.
“It’s just,” Erin said, looking up quickly before shaking her head, the three of them went completely silent the second she opened her mouth and looked towards her, “I lost my virginity to the guy, you know? And I’m so used to him, I just... I don’t know what I’m going to do,” She finished miserably, “I... I really love him.”
Molly balled up her fists and pressed them into her thighs. Yes, she was slowly beginning to be more comfortable with who she was and no longer felt that she had to exaggerate everything about herself so that people didn’t continue viewing her as the sarcastic and misunderstood eleven year old she’d once been. She knew that she couldn’t be the best at everything and that the reason she was so arrogant about her own abilities was rooted in her dislike of herself (not dislike, maybe, dissatisfaction was a better word) – because at least she was good at some things.
And now she was older – and by the official wizarding terms she was an adult – she was beginning to let things from the past let ago a little bit... but, she still hated the fact that her friend was sat there, hurting and there was literally nothing she could do to help because honestly she was utterly clueless.
Later, after Simrath had volunteered to go steal some chocolate from the kitchens and they’d engaged in a late-night, end-of-term, entirely necessarily long bitch about most of the people they knew (Tom being a number one target) Molly lay awake in her bed and thought about things. Eventually she decided that maybe it was okay that she hated everything about love (and oh, what a paradox) simply because she didn’t get it, because that was who she was – Molly Weasley, cynical and naive. At least about some things.
Then she reminded herself about the truth of the matter: she was seventeen, which was far too young to be falling in love anyway and she had a whole lifetime ahead of her for relationships that might actually last instead of ending up in distraught-Erins and mopey-Roxannes (which was inevitably the result when anyone dated as a teenager, apart from about six people in the world who’d found ‘true love’ – either that or had become so used to each other that they couldn’t be bothered to date anyone else). In reality, if Tom didn’t break up with Erin tomorrow morning she’d pretend that she hadn’t said all the stuff about his annoying lisp, his absurdly low voice, or his bloody annoying walk and go back to fluttering her eyelashes at him like a first class twit. And she’d be happy about it.
Molly didn’t think she’d ever understand that, but then again – she was only seventeen.
The word for this chapter was 'production.' Thanks for all your lovely reviews on the last chapter, I really appreciated them! :D
Up next: Molly is sixteen and the WHOLE WORLD is changing due to one simple word beginning in s and ending in x (and it's not spandex)...