At fifteen life was all about keeping up appearances, in every sense of the word...
Molly did not suit being fifteen years old. It felt like it was only last year when the topic of periods had been a hot topic, primarily because a thirteen year old Roxanne had yet to experience the disgusting and inconvenient phenomena, and now that was old news and the whole world was focused on things much more difficult to understand than the menstrual cycle – fashion, makeup, being alluring to the opposite sex and being a source of jealousy from fellow females. Frankly, Molly thought talking about periods was a great deal more exciting and less painful than talking about slingbacks VS sandals, or whatever garbage Erin found in Teen Witch!
Only last week the surprisingly-somehow-published magazine had published an article about the perfect ratio of attractiveness, leading to all her dorm mates spending an entire evening measuring the distance between their nostrils and jotting down measurements and doing complicated calculations that Molly was sure was made up rather than scientific. As Molly could have told them before they started the whole business, one person was going to end up with the lowest number, would therefore be defined as ‘scientifically ugliest’ and would be upset – and Erin did get upset when it turned out her face was slightly wonky... before, of course, Roxanne had referred to the rest of article which listed blonde hair and blue eyes as the most attractive features (really? What a surprise!) meaning that it all cancelled out and that Erin was, of course, prettier-than-anyone-else-who’d-ever-lived-on-the-planet-ever-full-stop. The whole affair had been nothing short of farcical and Molly had seriously debated writing a strongly worded letter to the no doubt potion-addled editor of Teen Witch! telling her that she was causing shallow, teen idiots to feel sorry for themselves nationwide – and not just because of the criminal use of punctuation in the magazine, but also due to their articles perpetuating the idea of looking perfect and sending all the boys cray-cray.
Molly had spent her entire fifteen years of life steadfastly declaring that she did not care about her appearance (well, she imagined when she was a toddler she’d had more pressing concerns than trying to convince people that she wasn’t vain, primarily filling nappies and crying a lot... so, if she was going to be pedantic – which, if Molly was honest, was one of her specialities – she generally meant a good part of the last half-decade). She did not want to appear like one of the types to start hyperventilating over a spot. Nor did she want to embrace the classic teen-tradition of declaring how awful she looked to have her friends rush to a very-artificial defence when they all assured her that she was just beautiful and was so darn pretty and that they were all so jealous that it hurt.
Molly had never pouted at their dorm mirror and told the entire room she was ugly. Not because the thought hadn’t crossed her mind, because a large proportion of Molly’s brain was regularly occupied in criticising the way she looked, acted, was... but because she was scared that no one would contradict her. There’d be the awkward moment when Erin, who could talk for twenty minutes about how striking Roxanne’s fairly large nose was, or about how Simrath’s admittedly-frizzy hair had volume, would turn her mascara-laden eyelashes away... when Roxanne, who regularly deplored how Erin was skinny in a good way would be able to produce nothing more than a slightly awkward cough. Instead, Molly’s method of attacking her lack of confidence was to scoff at the pair of them whenever they started the regular routine of oh-my-gosh-I-hate-myself oh-no-you’re-the-most-beautiful-person-I’ve-ever-met and pretend, well not quite pretend, that she thought they were all being vain, shallow and childish.
She did think they were vain, shallow and childish. But Molly was also vain, shallow and childish. She was just better at acting condescending rather than embracing it. Molly Weasley had condescending, bitter and scathing down pat.
Erin had once told Roxanne that she thought she was the prettiest girl in the Weasley-Potter family... even prettier than Dom.
Molly had not cried, but it had been a close run thing.
Molly knew she wasn’t pretty.
She’d been a ridiculously adorable child but had fallen foul to the awkward pubescent stages of adolescence, and now she looked more ridiculous than anything else. Her body was in a transitory state between pre-puberty and post-puberty, meaning she had much too thin skinny legs, wobbly thighs, more hips than breasts and no self confidence. She’d lost her childlike chubby cheeks, her clear skin and her comfortableness with the way she looked... meaning now inside she was a weeping mess of self-hatred and outside she was still the stubborn why-should-I-care-Molly that had happened at some point after starting Hogwarts, when being the daughter of Percy Weasley had meant that teachers expected her to be a pompous goody two shoes and her classmates had thought she’d be a quiet nerdy-bookworm with no personality.
Of course Molly cared. She often considered that she cared more than Erin and Roxanne, who chatted on endlessly about their low self esteem but still managed to fish for compliments and let them diffuse through their skin until they had happy little smiles as they denied it all; of course I’m not prettier than you! I’d kill to look like you!
“What’s up, Molly wobbles?” Dexter asked her as she glared into her breakfast. She’d known letting slip that her Grandpa apparently, according to James, called her namesake Molly Wobbles as a nickname had been a bad idea – but she also knew that she had a tendency to be slightly more forth coming with information as far as Dexter was concerned, because... Molly may or may not have had a slight liking of Dexter. Not that it was a big deal, because it wasn’t. She just liked the fact that Dexter actually knew when Molly was joking and picked on her in a more jokey way than a more mocking way which meant that her responses didn’t have to be quite so vicious, meaning that she actually enjoyed talking to him. Plus he was intelligent. And he wasn’t horrible.
Not being horrible, with all the people in Molly’s year, was quite the achievement.
“What did your toast every do to you?” Zak asked, kicking her under the table.
Molly ignored that, reluctantly beginning her breakfast and shrugging at Dexter by way of response. Her stomach did a weird jolty thing when he raised his eyebrows at her. So Molly raised her eyebrows in response, before looking back at her toast feeling like a bit of an idiot.
“Where are the others?” Dexter asked.
“Mirror patrol.” Molly said, rolling her eyes and feeling her shoulders slope downwards at the mere thought. She’d walked off without telling them, in the end, because she’d been so bloody bored watching them make stupid faces at the mirror whilst attacking their eyes with various contraptions (AKA: eyelash curlers, mascara, eye liner...) until they looked like they were dressed up as something alarming for Halloween. The sad fact was, they probably hadn’t notice Molly had walked off.
The recent thing that had been particularly bugging Molly was that Lucy’s friends had all decided that they were all fat and had set off on the journey of eating healthily which Molly was sure could only end in Anorexia and obsession, neither of which Molly exactly wanted for her little kid sister who was so easily influenced by a bunch of stupid Hufflepuffs. She’d written to her mum about it and had been assured that it was probably just a phase and to write to her again if Lucy did look significantly thinner or if she was still worried and Roxanne had laughed at her and said she was overacting. Yes, she had seen Lucy eating chocolate yesterday so she couldn’t be taking the whole thing that seriously, but she’d also seen her and her friends going for a run instead of eating breakfast, and Lucy had muted to her that butter on toast was oh so very fattening. Hence Molly’s steadfast glare at her slice of toast.
Apparently, perhaps, if she started eating toast without butter Molly would be an all round better and more attractive person.
(Not that Molly believed that. None of the Weasley family were particularly fat; they all had some crazy ass metabolism which meant that James, Hugo, Al, Louis and Fred could participate in the annual Christmas day eating competition every year without putting on a pound. Well, until the Weasley in question hit about thirty five, because then the expansion outwards was quite impressive. At least, that’s what Aunt Hermione had told her).
“You could have waited, Molly.” Roxanne said, brushing her hair out of her face with some difficulty because it had become attached to her sticky, obscenely glittery lip gloss.
“I was hungry,” Molly returned, “sorry.” She added as an afterthought, even though she wasn’t.
“So she’s been ravenously eating her toast since she got here.” Zak said, pointedly nodding to Molly’s now cold, untouched breakfast. Molly sent him a glare, which he seemed to find very funny and satisfying. God, what an idiot.
“Ah, well,” Roxy said, flipping her hair stupidly, “I’ve stopped trying to understand Molly.”
Right. Roxanne was still annoyed about Molly just walking off and her usual way of expressing this annoyance was joining in with the Molly-Weasley-is-a-joke campaign that prats like Zak were so dedicated too. Even if she was a joke, which was still to be determined, Molly Weasley was not funny. They all needed to back off.
“Morning Dex,” Erin said, flashing him an equally glittery smile, “how’s it going?”
Erin was having a flirting thing with Dexter. Of course, Dexter just loved it – a nice, pretty girl like Erin sending him flirty glances and lip-gloss smiles? His usual arrogance levels, which had been extreme before, were slowly skyrocketing to hyperspace levels. Erin didn’t see it as a big deal, just something that they could squee over when the inevitable topic of boys came up, where as Molly was entirely sure that Dexter definitely fancied her. Still, it was what it was and Molly just had to grit her teeth and bare the queasy jealous feeling that she was continuing to pretend didn’t exist.
Erin did not know about Molly’s... fondness for Dexter. Nor was she ever going to find out.
“Could be a lot worse.” Dexter said, smiling in return.
Mornings truly were hateful.
And with a gritty sense of resignation, of giving up to something she’d been resisting for a very long time, Molly made the decision that tomorrow breakfast would be different. Then she picked up her cold, butter-laden toast and finally began to eat.
Molly had been carrying round the tube of mascara like it was some sort of Class A non tradable substance since Rose had delivered it to her with an eye roll and the demand for the appropriate number of galleons (an extortionate amount, although given it was Rose that was probably, depressingly, all down to the price of the mascara rather than her adding a service charge like it might have been if she’d asked one of her other cousins). The pockets of her robes felt slightly heavier than normal with the mascara in her pocket, even though that was ridiculous and stupid on all accounts because, really, the thing wasn’t exactly heavy.
Mascara was not a big deal. As the foundation she’d borrowed off Lucy wasn’t a big deal (although Erin’s skin had the tendency towards more spots, hers didn’t seem that obvious... whereas Molly always seemed to have one or two, prominent, horrific spots that were just begging to be mocked and stared at... there was nothing wrong with covering it up)... nor the lip gloss (distinctly non-glittery) she’d purchased last Hogsmeade weekend. She was fifteen, so it wasn’t like Molly was unfamiliar with the concept of makeup – she’d just been determinedly against the idea of wearing it on a day to day basis. Thanks to the generic female-niece gift she had plenty of quite cheep, quite nasty makeup pallets with a variety of odd eye shadows and lip colours and the sort of colour blusher she thought would look ridiculous on anyone.
It wasn’t a big deal. Molly was, yes, prone to exaggeration almost as much as she was prone to sarcasm, but it seemed like the whole makeup issue was symbolic of so much more than a bit of mascara and some lipstick. It was like Lucy worrying that butter was fattening: it was nothing to worry about in itself, it’s just that embracing that sort of mentality left her sister wide open to a whole host of other things. Molly remembered Dom getting skinner and skinner, and something that had started off as something as innocent as joining her best friend in eating healthy had turned sinister... and even then Dom had been okay, in the end, but it wasn’t just switching to diet-butter-beer (which tasted like crap, anyway) or having ultra-shiny lips... it was Molly admitting that she wasn’t good enough without makeup anymore.
The changes had been coming for awhile. A few months before Molly’s birthday she’d purchased a ridiculously padded bra that made her feel like she actually had a chest, a little while after that she’d started mimicking Erin in the rolling up of her skirt (although, to be fair, not half as much as Erin) and had, several times, tried to do something with her hair. It seemed to Molly that the whole thing was a case of bending or breaking, and she supposed this was her bending. And this mascara was the last extra-volume fake-lashes-effect black-cat-black straw.
Molly had never attempted this mascara thing before. Once or twice she’d been forced into a chair and had been forcibly attacked by various friends or family members, who’d cover her in makeup and perform charms on her hair and say things like you look so pretty right now as though Molly wasn’t acutely aware of the double edged insult. But, she’d never actually put the stuff on herself. The logistics, obviously, wasn’t very complicated... and Molly adopted for holding the mascara wand near her face and trying to blink on it.
She missed. Molly let out an irritated noise and leaned closer to the mirror, trying not to blink as she applied the things on her lashes. Her hand shook, she poked herself in the eye, she shut her eyes very quickly and then began blinking profusely. With one eye streaming and the other half open so she could see what she was doing, Molly reached out for a wad of toilet roll and started trying to mop up the black mess that had become of her face. She’d more or less expected this, but it didn’t stop the irritation at herself flaring up a little more. Molly Weasley, Ravenclaw extraordinaire, can’t even put on bloody mascara.
On the second attempt Molly rather thought she’d done a relatively good job. Her eyelashes did look a little longer. Admittedly she hadn’t managed to get hey eyelashes to look like fat spiders legs (the sort they used in potions) like the more popular girls managed, but frankly she didn’t think she could be bothered to hold up all that extra weight. She didn’t have any eyeliner, so she skipped that, selecting a fairly natural brown shade of eye shadow... bit of a mistake, as it turned out, because she ended up knocking her newly-mascara’d eyelashes with the eye shadow brush and now her eyelashes were splayed out haphazardly as though someone had playing ten pin bowling, badly, with her eyelashes.
When Molly had finally finished arseing abut in front of the mirror she tried to decide whether or not she looked better. These days, the madly-confident Gryffindor girls seemed to have foundation on so thick that Molly would have been able to scrape it off, giving them the smooth, strangely inhumane look of orange porcelain. Molly did not look like that (which she thought was an infinite bonus). She hadn’t drawn on her eyebrows either, meaning she’d managed to avoid the permanently surprised look that Roxanne had possessed ever since she’d been a tad overzealous in her eyebrow plucking and had started ‘defining’ them a little bit further up than was natural. She didn’t look as pretty as Erin or Roxanne either, but it was a little better than it had been.
It could be much worse. And, really, giving in was almost a relief – a bittersweet sort of relief that made her half ashamed of herself and half want to yell it’s not a big deal, Molly, just get over it.
Molly emerged from the bathroom just as the others were waking up, sat down on her bed and began reading her transfiguration text book to pass the time. Admittedly, getting up an extra hour earlier than everyone else had been overkill but Molly hadn’t had the slightest clue about how truly incompetent she’d be at this whole makeup lark.
“Molly,” Roxanne said, narrowing her eyes as she glanced at Molly in the mirror, when she’d finally gotten to the point in her morning routine where she was applying her own mascara, “are you wearing makeup?”
“A bit.” Molly shrugged, feeling awkward and idiotic as she concentrated on her textbook.
“I thought you said – ” Erin began, only to receive a look from Roxanne and to shut up immediately. Erin had no doubt been about to quote one of Molly’s long rants about how pointless and stupid makeup was, citing lines about the sexualisation of children and feminism and Molly thought she’d be grateful for Roxanne for shutting her up as long as she lived – because Molly thought she might still believe all of that, but she wasn’t sure either, because she was torn horribly between what the hell she actually thought about the whole thing.
“You look nice,” Roxanne said pointedly, “the eye shadow suits you.”
“Thanks.” Molly said, trying very hard to look like she wasn’t slightly pleased that they’d finally noticed her (and trying even more hard not to think she’s only complimenting you because of obligation, Molly).
“Do you want me to do your hair?” Roxanne asked, turning around to face her with a slightly manic grin.
“No,” Molly said, “good God no.”
“I could plait it.” Roxanne said, tilting her head as she slicked on the stupidly glittery lip gloss.
“I’d look like a Girl Guide.” Molly countered.
“Just, no. You’re never touching my hair.”
“Do I look like an animal? No plaits, not tails, no nothing. I really don’t care about my hair, Rox.”
“Or your eye makeup,” Roxanne said, in a mock quiet voice, “oh no, Molly doesn’t care about beauty...”
“I don’t understand why it has to be so important, that’s all.”
“What’s there to understand?” Roxanne asked, turning back to the mirror and pouting.
“Is the word not long enough for Miss-dictionary-Weasley?” Erin asked, hand on hip as she ‘fluffed up’ Molly’s hair and grinned at her. This, Molly was to understand, was her punishment for being contradictory and generally a bit of a stick in the mud. It wasn’t so hard to take from her friends. She didn’t mind, not really.
“What about... stunning, gorgeous... pulchritudinous,” Roxanne said extravagantly. Molly raised one of her thick, unplucked eyebrows at her. “Fred’s got this word of the day calendar,” she said, holding out her lip gloss for Molly to take, if she should so wish, “he keeps charming them to stick to the back of my bag – he says I need to expand my vocabulary beyond boys.”
“I’ll say,” Simrath chimed in, taking the lip gloss before Molly had a chance to violently and explicitly refuse the chance to join the crew of idiots who looked liked they’d got diamonds attached to their lips, and trying it herself, “if I hear one more conversation about what a flirt Kyle is...”
“Tell me about it,” Molly grumbled, shoving her book into her bag and attempting to flatten her hair after Erin’s meddling, “you’re worse than Lucy and her obsession with getting blonde highlights.”
“Lip gloss?” Erin asked.
Molly sent her a withering look.
Roxanne had been more purposefully embarrassing than normal, with a very pointed doesn’t Molly look nice today at breakfast which had caused Molly to perform her finest display of scathing, sarcastic, bitter verbal opponent which she was sure everyone had found much more entertaining than the fact that Molly Weasley had actually donned makeup. The fact that this was considered such a big deal was largely why she’d been so against the change – it seemed like anything Molly did was subject to mockery and general public amusement, where as everyone else seemed to slip under the radar.
Sometimes she thought that she was just paranoid, but after Erin had attempted to cut her own fringe (how hard could it be?) and wound up having to pin the remaining tufts of hair back in a sort of quiff until they’d grown back properly had managed to only receive a bit of flirty-teasing from Callum Bennet – the fifth year Ravenclaw Beater who’d managed to knock out the Ravenclaw seeker during their last match – about bad aim which Molly had found quite funny... assuming, of course, he was being intentionally ironic. If he wasn’t then he was a bloody idiot who deserved to be relegated from both the Quidditch Team and Ravenclaw in general. The incident with Roxanne’s eyebrows had, admittedly, generated a great deal of inter-family amusement up until the present. Dom, perhaps in poor taste or perhaps in good humour (it was difficult to tell, as far as Dom was concerned) had diagnosed Roxanne’s eyebrows as anorexic. Now it was general practice for anyone in their very very extended family to begin conversations, quite seriously, by inquiring after the health of Roxy’s eyebrows... but that was family stuff and was to be expected.
Molly got it from all directions. Her cousins tended to be less rigorous in their efforts to ridicule her, mostly because Molly fit in much better with Rose, Fred, James and the like than she did with her own group of friends – they’d always understood and appreciated her sarcasm and divine ability to insult others. Roxanne was more likely to get a bit flustered which was, really, what they were all after anyway. But, she still got her fair share of classic Weasley banter. The main problem was from her classmates, who every so often put the toe over the line between being funny and just being arrogant, bullying shits. And sometimes they threw their gangly bodies right over said line, stripped naked and ran around on the wrong side of that line. In Molly’s view, anyway; she very much thought they were purposefully aiming to insult her – let’s see if we can actually make Molly upset, let’s see if we can make her lose her temper, dear Merlin, have you seen Molly she’s actually wearing makeup?
Still, Molly was adept enough to diffuse the attention away from her identity crisis resulting in her confiding in a tube of mascara and going against everything she may-or-may-not-believe (because who knew, anymore) meaning that the main brunt of the comments that were sure to come flying at her about making an effort were deflected before they’d been delivered... which was very good, because Molly could not guarantee that had someone said something horrible she wouldn’t have burst into hysterical sobs and had to be peeled away from the table at a later date.
Molly had thought that a potions lesson would largely mean that she’d be free for a little longer before it all started but given that her assigned seat in Potions was sandwiched between Zak and Dexter that had been wildly optimistic – the sort of thing even Trelawney wouldn’t have predicted.
The potion they were brewing wasn’t complicated, not being so very close to the Christmas holidays, which meant that Zak seemed to feel he had some of his attention free to bug her.
“Where d’you get the makeup from?” Zak asked ten minutes into the lesson, poking her with the end of the ladle he should have been using to stir their potion.
“Funny you should ask that,” Molly muttered, deliberately chopping up her ingredients feeling distinctly irritated, “the makeup fairies came in the night and left a tube of Gladrag’s mascara under my pillow!”
“The makeup fairies probably shouldn’t have bothered,” Zak returned, “did someone offend you or something? Is that why you’ve started wearing makeup?”
“The fact that you continue speaking offends me.” Molly returned, shifting her seat closer to Dexter – which was a much preferable place to be, anyway – and letting her hair fall between them to try and block out his incessant talking. Merlin, Zak Brady was an annoying prat.
“If I said your hair looked crap, would you start sleeping with your hair in curlers like Tina?”
“You’re potion’s started steaming, Zak,” Dexter said over the conversation, the very picture of disinterested, “you might want to turn down the heat.”
Zak swore rather excessively (apparently, the current way to express what a manly fourteen year old you were was to know lots of crude and vulgar swearwords... having moved on from being able to eat four burgers last week) and began dithering around his end of the desk looking quite distracted.
“Thanks.” Molly said grudgingly, squaring her shoulders against the whole damn world and blinking – not in a fluttery eyelash way, Molly would never be so damn moronic, but in a I’m-not-used-to-wearing-mascara way.
“You shouldn’t have bothered,” Dexter said, scanning her face with his brown eyes, “really.”
“Just,” Molly began, flicking through her potions book irritably, “I’m fed up of... not fitting in.” In her mind, Dexter was supposed to take this declaration and start offering her some nice, sound, philosophical advice (and maybe a hug?) instead he didn’t react at all, offered her a little shrug and returned to his own potion.
Molly wasn’t sure why she felt so disappointed. Several of the girls in her class – the other Ravenclaws and the Hufflepuffs they shared this class with – had said she looked nice and... well, she hadn’t exactly been expecting to drown in compliments, but one nice thing wouldn’t have been too bad. One nice thing from Dexter.
Instead his usual jokey quips had been replaced with the other Dexter, the one who was a bit boring and flat and there wasn’t even an element of satire in his earlier comment. Molly thought she did look nicer, not nice by any stretch of the means, but...
“You looked fine before.” Dexter finished, giving his potion a dramatic clockwise stir before heading off to the potions cupboard for more ingredients.
Molly found her face flushing slightly and she suddenly forced herself to become very preoccupied with her potion so no one noticed. Apparently she’d looked fine before. No one had phrased it quite like that before... and fine wasn’t pretty, but Dexter hadn’t been obliged to say anything at all. But it was a you’re okay, really Molly. She was fine. Molly Weasley was just fine.
Molly silently resolved that next time she wouldn’t give in so easily. The slight glow of being complimented meant that Molly knew, realistically, that tomorrow morning... or maybe a few days after that... she’d find herself back in front of the mirror again. She was being internally dramatic again, but not-wearing-makeup seemed to have become a bridge burnt quicker than she’d realised – it felt irreversible, even though that was ridiculous... but the seductive promise of a few off hand comments that validated her as a person was too much.
Molly wasn’t a child. She could make decisions herself and... next time, she’d stick to her guns. Beauty – she’d given in, this once. Even if it was something stupid and small like mascara. Molly was determined that for the rest of her life she would neither bend nor break. Then again, she was only fifteen.
THIS IS THE END GUYS. It feels slightly strange and un-endy, but there we go. The chapter for this word was pulchritudinous and beauty was the last of Molly's abstract nouns to hit. Although, I've got to say, after some people expressed Dexter/Molly shipping feels I decided to write a one shot about Molly/Dexter and then... yeah, I accidentally ended up writing about 12k of an accidental sequel. It may just sit on my computer and gather dust, but I doubt it because I'm pretty proud of some of the dialogue. So, if you're interested keep your eyes out of Issue of Epistemic Modality... which will be set when Molly's 25 (ten years after this chapter!). Anyway, thanks for reading this one - being about growing up it's quite a personal one and I think I had quite a lot to say about the subject. No doubt you all think I'm woefully wrong about most of this stuff, but yeah. Oh and thanks to Hanzi for pronouncing me the winner of the Lexicon challenge for this story and to the Ravenclaws for nominating and voting for this story to win the Nerdiest Narration Diadem. Molly is most pleased about the nerd titles.
Whoops, long authors note. But, seriously, thanks for reading! Please leave a review! :)