Chapter 5 : Face Off
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Author's Note: Sorry for the late update. Judging by how the first two and half weeks of the semester has gone I can already tell it's going to be grueling. I'll still make time for writing and update when I can though... at least once (maybe twice) a month. Anyway, here's this chapter. It's short, but it finally has some Molly/Finn interaction in it. Hope y'all enjoy it!
Lovely chapter image made by Branwen @TDA!
Molly stood on the cobbled walk outside of her uncle’s shop, staring at Finn as though he were merely a hallucination. It had only been yesterday that she had received a letter from his owl, but now he was standing before her in the flesh. There seemed to be so many thoughts running through her mind at once that she could not think straight at all. Not to mention she really should say something, anything, but no words were coming to her. She was beyond speechless.
But then, after what felt like forever but could only be several minutes, Molly felt the rush of words coming back to her as they gushed out of her mouth with little thought to what they were,
“What are you doing here?”
Stupid question, she thought after only a split second of completing it. She knew he worked at Gringotts as a Curse Breaker, or rather had figured he had since that had been what he had decided to do in their final year of Hogwarts. But whether he thought it was a dumb question was not made evident in the least, instead he answered her questions. Still with that flummoxed expression upon his still handsome face.
“I work at Gringotts,” Finn said, “as a Curse Breaker. And I’m assuming you’ve been working as a Herbologist.”
It seemed like polite, stiff conversation. She hated it. It didn’t feel right to speak of every day casualties with Finn, it just didn’t.
“It’s great to see you’re still alive, Harper,” Erin said, joining them by cracking a joke. “I had been wondering what you were getting up to since you seem to disappear from society for stints at a time.”
“Alive and kicking,” Finn replied with that same crooked grin that Molly loved so much; some things never changed. “Work keeps me busy.”
“Or rather he buries himself in it so deep until it keeps him busy,” Connor added, joining in, too. “Name’s Connor, I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure of making your acquaintance,” he said while sticking his hand out, which she shook hesitantly. “You must be the Molly Finn is always talking about.”
“Connor,” Finn gritted out, flushed. “Just shut it.”
Molly felt uncomfortable. By the sounds of it, Finn seemed to be thinking about her as much as she had been thinking of him. She was not sure how she felt knowing that. Sure, she thought of him a lot, but did she really want to get back together with Finn? If she was being completely honest with herself, then yes she did. She would give anything to go back to the way things were between them before she had left. But things would forever be etched by her choice to move to Australia, thus breaking up with him.
“Gosh, you’d think the two of you didn’t know each other,” Erin said. “Quit acting so stiff, the both of you, and hug. I know you both want to.”
She swallowed back a lump in her throat, looking up as Finn cleared his throat. Never before had she been as frightened as she was at that moment. It was Judgement day in Diagon Alley, or at least it felt like it.
“Well, it was nice to see you,” Finn said, and with a nod of his still just as messy brown-haired head, then turned sideways and was walking away from her. Right out of her life like she had done to him several years ago.
Erin nudged her, pushing her to go after him but she could not move no matter how much her brained willed her legs to function to go after him. He was slipping away from her and she felt hopeless just standing there watching him walk away. Her immediate thought was to go after him, if only her legs would respond to the urgent shouts on the inside of her mind.
“Oh, hey Finn!” Erin shouted, taking matters into her own hands. When Finn had turned around, her friend continued, “Would you mind terribly if we joined you? For lunch that is, like old times sake?”
Finn paused, clearly on the edge of his answer, before he responded. “I suppose.”
Just ‘I suppose,’ as if he need not care about catching up on the years they had fallen out of contact for. The answer stabbed at Molly’s gut like a knife slashing straight through. The truth hurt, but she had at least expected Finn to be the same as he had been while they were in Hogwarts. But the Finn that stood before her on that day was not her Finn; rather, he was the broken hearted Finn she had left all those years ago. She had ruined all chance of ever being with Finn again.
“Uh, I hate to break this up, whatever this is,” Connor cut in, “but we really should grab some lunch before our hour break is up, Finn.”
“Right,” Finn said. His voice was stiff, but still making no move to turn back around and continued to stare into Molly’s blue eyes as she stared into his green.
“Let’s go to Florean’s,” Erin interrupted. “I was telling Molly of how Florean’s son remodelled the shoppe earlier.”
“Yeah, sure,” Finn replied. “Sounds like a good idea.”
It was then that they all made their way in the direction of the ice cream shoppe, which also sold meals in addition to desserts. Their small group seemed tight with tension as an awkward tension fell over them. She wished things could go back to the way they were before she had started second guessing their relationship. Back when they actually had fun. But that had been a years ago. When they were still carefree teenagers; before they had to take their N.E.W.T.s that had ultimately determined where they ended up.
“Blimey,” Erin said, breaking the long silence once they had all grabbed a table in the restaurant. “For two people who still very much like each other, both of you sure have a funny way of showing it.”
Molly’s eyes widened as she looked across the table at Finn, who looked just as shocked to learn she still liked him as much as he did her. Or at least that was how Molly chose to interpret his expression.
“How’s Australia?” Finn asked, albeit bitterly. It was evident that he would not allow himself to be the first to revert back to friendly terms.
Molly swallowed before answering. “Fine, it really is lovely. Even during its winter months, but my parents wished me to visit and this is the slowest time we have at the greenhouses. And everyone is just as lovely.” Could she use the word lovely anymore? Molly thought, flushing.
“Worth leaving all your friends for,” Finn threw out meaninglessly, almost like he did not care when they both knew he did. He was doing his best to mask his feelings, but she and Finn both knew that he could not hide how he still felt about her.
“That’s not fair,” Molly said sharply in defence.
“I just remembered, I have an important department meeting at work,” Erin said, looking apologetically toward Molly. “Sorry, but I have to go now.”
“Oh,” Molly said, slumping in the corner of the booth where she sat. “See you later?”
“Of course,” Erin said. “I’ll Apparate over with Mathis later and we can have a night out.”
“Alright,” she said, watching her friend get up and make an exit before turning back to the boys that sat across from her. “It’s so weird not having to work every day.”
“Every day,” Connor said, frowning. “Don’t you have weekends off?”
Molly shook her head. “I still have to go in to feed the plants and track my studies. One day missed could screw the whole chart up.”
“Oh, well now I see how you and Finn are such a perfect fit,” Connor said, whistling. “It seems like he’s always burying himself in his work, barely coming out with the rest of us to let loose at the pub after work.”
“Not true,” Finn replied. “I have fun. I just have a lot to do at work before I can make time to respond to social owls.”
“Will you make time for me?” Molly asked, all of a sudden feeling bashful as though she were in her teenage years all over again.
“Ooh,” Connor said, “Sounds to me like she wants to pick up where you two left off, mate.” His friend raised his brows suggestively at Finn.
“I don’t think that’s such a great idea,” Finn said, shutting down Molly. “I’m actually seeing someone,” he lied. “So it really isn’t a good idea to hang out given our history.”
“Oh,” Molly said, crushed. “I see.”
Molly completely missed Connor’s pointed look at Finn, she was that hurt. She knew she shouldn’t have been upset since she had absolutely no claim on him, but that did not stop her from feeling the crash of waves come down on her. In a perfect world she and Finn would have been together, but her life was far from perfection. She had messed up her chance of being with Finn seven years ago and was still suffering from her poor choice.
It was horrible. Why couldn’t Finn realise she still very much liked him, she thought. He was obviously keeping his guard up with her, even though she wished he wouldn’t. Now that she’s older, Molly felt as though she could make a better decision where her relationship with Finn was concerned. It would even be better if they were back to being just friends. She missed his company tons.
Not being able to bear sitting in the booth with Finn glowering down at the wooden surface of the table, Molly stood abruptly. “Well, I think I can tell when I’m not wanted anymore. Good-bye, Finn, it was nice seeing you.” And with that she was walking away, surely leaving the guys gaping after her.
But just as she thought she had made a dignified exit, she felt her feet slip from underneath her. The world appeared to be moving in slow motion as she fell backward, not able to do anything to stop the fall. Closing her eyes tightly in the hopes it wouldn’t hurt badly, she suddenly felt arms make contact with her lower back and back of her knees just before it would have hit the polished, hardwood flooring. She felt herself breathe an involuntary sigh of relief, eyes still closed.
“I’ve got you,” said a familiar deep voice in her ear.
Opening her eyes, she smiled upon discovering the identity of her knight in shining armour. She had given up hope with the moodiness he had shown her just moments ago, but now he was smiling warmly as he held her in his arms. It felt like some kind of cliché out of a storybook romance to her, but she did not care. All that mattered as her and Finn in the now. In that moment she could pretend they were still together.
“Looks like your back to falling for me,” Finn teased. “Some things won’t ever change.”
“Literally,” Molly said, still in his arms bridal style. “Uh, you can let me down now.”
“Right,” Finn replied, setting her down and nodding toward the door. “So, I suppose you’ll be leaving now, then.”
“Yeah, about that,” Molly said. “I don’t really want to leave; I just didn’t feel like you wanted to catch up with me. And you have a girlfriend.”
“No he doesn’t,” Connor said, joining them by the door where conveniently was a wet floor sign. “I can’t believe you didn’t see through that blatant lie of his.”
Finn turned on Connor, glaring, before turning back to Molly with a hesitant grin playing on his lips.
“Why would you lie?”
“Because he obviously doesn’t want to get hurt again,” Connor said, jumping in before Finn could respond. “But I think it’s a load of crap. He still likes you and shouldn’t shut you out.”
“Do you,” Molly asked, turning back to face Finn. “Like me, that is.”
“Yeah,” Finn said truthfully, wearing that dashingly handsome crooked grin of his that she loved so much.
“And I’ll be heading back to work now,” Connor cut in between them. “I’ll tell boss man that you’ll be in a little late, mate.” He slapped Finn in a joking way on his back before leaving them alone; or as alone as two people can be in a restaurant full of patrons eating their lunches.
“I’m sorry about him,” Finn said in relation to Connor. “He doesn’t quite know how to act around women.”
Molly laughed. “It’s fine; I think it’s nice you have a better friend than when we were at Hogwarts.”
“Then you probably don’t want to hear that I’m still friends with them,” Finn replied. “Not to mention the fact that Nott is my flatmate.”
“Speaking of whom, I saw him last week when I came in,” Molly said conversationally. “I suppose he works in the Magical Transportation department, then.”
“Indeed he does,” Finn replied. “And my brother saw you that day, too. Or so he said.”
“I ran into him in the lift on my way out of the Ministry,” Molly replied honestly.
“Why didn’t you tell me you were coming back?”
“I honestly have no clue,” Molly said. “I thought about writing you countless times to tell you, but I chickened when it came to actually sending the letter. I didn’t want to take the chance of you rejecting to see me.”
“I could never reject you, Molly,” Finn said, tone serious.
“I suppose deep down I knew that,” Molly replied. “But I was still scared.”
For a moment they just stood there, staring into each other’s eyes. His were the same hazel, mostly green, like they had been before. It was nice to know some things would never change. Yet he seemed hesitant to say anything more to her, almost like he would have preferred to take off running away from her. She did not blame him if he was thinking of leaving just then. No, she understood that she had hurt him. Heck, she had hurt herself when she had broken up with him, but the only way to get past it was to move forward. And in order to move forward she had to be able to swallow her pride and make the first tentative step toward asking Finn out.
Deciding to just go for it boldly, unlike the carefulness she had always led, Molly gulped down her nerves.
“So, uh, what are you doing this weekend?”
“That depends,” Finn said, grinning. “You’re not asking me out are you?”
“It’s a possibility,” Molly flirted.
“Okay, but I’ll only go out with you if you promise not to break things off again.”
“Promise,” Molly found herself saying without any further thought. “Cross my heart.”
And just like that things were turning back around in their favour.
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