Chapter 2 : Rule 2: Trust No One
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Edit v2: adding a CI by the fantastic inspector. <3
Hello friends! this is a very edited/partially re-written version of the original chapter two, but I hope it doesn't disappoint as I feel it reflects the characters and the feeling I'm trying to achieve much more accurately. Best wishes!
Molly had never been a morning person. As she sat nursing a mug of tea in the Great Hall, nothing about that had changed/ She tried to empty her mind in preparation for her first class, but Riley kept popping into it: his words, his face, their entire "incident" from the day before; no matter how she pushed him out, he pushed right back in. If it hadn't given her a bit of a headache, she might have thought it funny in its metaphorical similarity to the day before.
And then, as if invading her head space wasn't enough, Riley sat down across from her with a thwump. "Good morning, Molly!" he said and she frowned at him from behind her mug. He'd broken the sacred rule: no one talked to her beofre 10 if they knew what was good for them.
"What do you want?" she snapped and Riley raised his hands in what she supposed was a placating gesture. If anything, it annoyed her more.
"Geeze Molly, will you relax? You're the most uptight person I know. I'm just trying to be a friend, and friends sit with each other over breakfast." He sounded so hurt, Molly sighed. She didn't have time to deal with this today. If it wasn't on the schedle it wouldn't - no, it couldn't - happen.
"Ha-ha, very funny; now that we've had a good laugh I do believe your actual friend, Arnold, is sitting down there, impatiently waiting," she said, gesturing to the darker-skinned boy with tight, black curls who looked even more annoyed than she felt. "So you should probably leave now." She was tring to sound casual and suave like Dom but she prayed he just left; this was getting embarrassing. Soon enough people other than her family members would start paying attention to her for the first time in years and then they might ask questions she ddn't have answers to. Regardless, they would be talking to her, which wasn't something she wanted either. This was an unforeseen complication and it was starting to give her a headache.
Molly hated complications.
"Eh, he's fine," Riley said, waving away her concerns. "So how are you feeling about the next chapter in Transfiguration?"
His refusal to take no for an answer nearly brought her to frustrated tears. He was a lovely person, she was sure of that after years of class together, but why couldn't he just leave her alone? Things would be easier all around that way, it wouldn't be messy and there would be no risk of letting anyone down by associating with the "wrong" kind of people. Not that Riley was wrong, exactly, Molly just wasn't sure if he was right, either.
"I don't know how I feelt yet," Molly said, letting her churning emotions get the best of her, "but seriously, he looks like he's about to have a heart attack. You should leave."
Something unreadable flickered across his face but he nodded. "If you insist," Riley sighed. "I'll see you in class later, save me a seat by you." He walked away then, to the happy, racous shouts of his friends that pierced the morning mist around Molly's head.
She turned back to her tea and wondered. What did he really want? Lucy caught her eye from down the table but Molly shook her head. An interrogation was not what she needed right now. He didn't act the way she expected him too, and Molly couldn't explain it, but it unnerved her.
Why did he have to do things?
Riley couldn't tear his eyes from Molly's delicate hands gripping her mug like a life preserver, untouched breakfast growing cold in front of him.
"Why are you even bothering with her, mate. You don't even know her," Arnold said between bites of potato. Arnold Wood had been Riley's best friend ever since their fathers had had the foresight to introduce them and he'd never been afraid to tell Riley exactly what he thought of his decisions. To his dismay, the other boy was very good at getting to the heart of whatever was going on.
Riley just shrugged though. He had his reasons - none of which he wanted to share with the entire table. "She just seems like she could use someone to talk to her, that's all," he said. "Plus we do know each other - we've had Transfiguration together for the past five years." He didn't exactly know her, she didn't talk much after all, but he knew that she was wicked smart and he didn't know why she didn't let people in anymore.
That was the one he didn't understand that bothered him. Molly didn't have to be by herself, she chose it. She'd had friends for the first four years he'd known her, and then he'd come back for fifth year, her sixth, and something changed. She kept to herself, did her work, and was absolutely determined. He'd mulled over the possibility of a dramatic friend breakup, but she was a Weasley. Even if that had happened, she could have had a slew of people begging to replace the - unless she didn't want them.
"You sound like a lovestruck sap," Arnold commented around a bite of his improvised muffin, egg, sausage sandwich.
Riley spluttered and his face felt hot. "I do not!" He knew he was digging himself into a deeper hole with the denial, but he couldn't stop the words tumbling out. "I didn't say I know her that well."
Arnold took another bite of his sandwich and smiled smugly. "Right, mate. Whatever you say."
For the first time in her Hogwarts career, Molly dragged her feet on the way to Transfiguration. She stood in front of the door to Advanced Transfiguration for N.E.W.T. students, dread pooling in the pit of her stomach. She didn't want to see him. Riley was the only sixth year in the class but it was nothing new. He had been in advanced transfiguration classes since second year. He was exceptionally bright, and she'd wondered in the past what McGonagall would end up doing with him after this year.
Taking a deep breath, Molly steeled herself and walked in. Riley doesn't mean anything. He's just a silly boy. She slid into her seat in the second desk of the middle row. She sat by herself unless she was required to work wiht a partner. Dom had refused to take advanced transfiguration, even though she was good at it, because it had nothing to do with banking. Why Dom wanted to go into magical banking was another mystery entirely.
Lost in preparing for class, placing her supplies just so, Molly started hen a pile of strange books appeared next to hers. But when she looked up, she was less surprised to see Riley standing there. She ducked her head back down and decided not to acknowledge him in hopes that he would take the hint.
"Do you mind?" She saw his hand gesturing to the seat beside her. The class was quickly filling up around them and the longer he stood there, the smaller the chance of him sitting somewhere else got it. She decided to be the bigger person.
Molly sighed and looked up. "Alright, you can sit by me, I guess."
He plopped down immediately and gave her a cheerful smile. Her stomach contracted - he had very nice teeth. "So are you excited to finally get further in our animagi discussion? I know I am, not that I want to be one, I don't think. Maybe. Who knows!"
She was trying not to pay attention but his excitement was contageious and she forgot herself. "Do you think McGonagall will demonstrate for us?"
"I hope so," he said, flipping his book open to the right page. "So, Molly. Tell e a little bit about yourself."
She furrowed her eyebrows. "Why?"
Riley shrugged as he set out his writing quill and blotter. "Why not? If I'm going to be your friend, I should know a little about you."
"We aren't friends," Molly said flatly, adjusting her notes an inch to the left.
Riley continued, unphased. "Well not yet aren't. Here, I'll go first. My full name is Riley James Finnigan, I have two younger sisters, Delanie and Saoirse, I prefer cats to dogs, and I really do want to get to know you."
"Why do you like cats more?"
"Because they don't pretend to like you if they don't actually do and they aren't as easily bribed with food. Plus, have you ever heard of a wizard dog? No? I thought not. Now you go."
But Molly couldn't go because at that moment was when McGonagall chose to come strutting into class as only a cat could, and for the next hour and a half both she and Riley were equally absorbed in the lesson.
Almost, anyway, because at the back of Molly's mind she couldn't seem to stop thinking of what she might say to him to answer his questions, which was a silly thought. She didn't need friends and she certainly wasn't going to tell him about any more about herself than she already had. She had more important things to worry about.
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