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Underneath the Adjectives by AC_rules
Chapter 1 : Practically perfect
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 6


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Last year around Valentine’s Day I wrote a one-shot about one night stands, this year I’ve climbed upon my soapbox in the form of a ranty one-shot about how relationships irritate me. Molly is my spokesperson and the character that can always drag me out of a writer’s block. Liz wanted more Mexter and she helped me get to number ten on the best of HPFF (and then, like a month later, helped me get to number nine). Hence, this happened. Slips in during chapter two of Issues of Epistemic Modality, but the timeline should be fairly obvious. 




Molly was not unaccustomed to feeling rough.

Whilst anyone in her year at school was quick to point out that Molly had never been particularly rebellious and went out of their way to act shocked if Molly was reported to have done anything that didn’t quite fit into her younger self’s definition of ‘good,’ Molly was not opposed to drinking too much and making a fool of herself, or the awkward drunken hook ups that came with it, or the inevitable hangover that came along later. Hell, Molly’s current relationship had blossomed out of an almost hook up with her almost friend/almost enemy and one of her favourite non-memories involved a bottle of firewhiskey, a drinking competition and a lot of subsequent terrible puns that had been relayed to her the next day. She’d been a satisfyingly witty drunkard and had beaten Freddie Weasley at drinking.

However, that hangover and all the others in her repertoire came with a vague feeling of having deserved exactly what she’d gotten. She’d known full well that a night beginning with gin would end with a bin (and her head plus some interestingly coloured vomit in it), so she didn’t feel like such a martyr when – inevitably – the next morning she’d be involved in a staring competition with the toilet, desperately trying to accio a cup of tea into existence and counting the time span between episodes of vomiting.

This she did not deserve. And if it was Dexter’s cooking that had caused it then she was going to tell him where to stuff his stuffed peppers and revert to the one woman solo show (only she’d have to wait until she finished being so violently ill, because she’d been sort of not really living with Dexter for a fortnight and she didn’t think she’d be capable of playing treasure hunt to find where all her knickers were right now).

Merlin’s pants she felt awful.

“Mols,” Dexter said, wrapping on the doorway to his bathroom. The sound sent Molly’s mind spinning. Oh God. “I’ve written in to work for you. Said you were sick.”

“I’m fine,” Molly muttered, elbow on the rim of the toilet seat, hand massaging that spot on her forehead that seemed to have had a dagger wedged into it at some point during the night. Possibly at some point after she’d bolted from Dexter’s bedroom to start the messy business of throwing up a lot.

“Convincing,” Dexter said, then the door was pushed open and Dexter stood in the doorway, “don’t worry, Mols. I gave a very detailed account of all your symptoms so I’m sure they won’t want you back in the office for at least a week.”

“I hope I’m contagious.” Molly muttered.

“I hope I don’t find out if you are.”

“If you’re going to stand there making unprecedented amounts of noise, can you at least get me some water, Dex?”

“Sure,” Dexter said, disappearing from the room and reappearing seconds later with a glass of water, “so how’s it all going?”

“Impeccably,” Molly muttered, finding the energy from somewhere deep within the bottom of her soul to look up and roll her eyes at him.

“I’m stopping off at the Healers to get you some potions,” Dexter said, half crouching next to her but keeping a little more distance than would usually be natural (as if the bloody idiot thought an extra inch of space between them would prevent him from catching it, if it was in fact contagious), “and they’ll want to know about how your symptoms are progressing.”

Molly made an incomprehensible sound of distaste.

“I know you don’t like toilet talk,” Dexter grinned, “so feel free to deliver the information via nonsensical metaphors and I’ll do my best to translate.”

Molly reached for the glass of water and shuffled a little further backwards, away from the toilet. It was bad enough to have to look at the damn thing whilst she was throwing up, but given she didn’t think there was anything left in her body to be thrown up she thought she might be okay for a little while.  Enough to put a bit of distance between her and the toilet which was more than needed after being so intimately equated with it over the past twenty four hours.

“It’s all quiet on the southern front,” Molly muttered, “turbulence still rising up in the north. Head hurts. Achey everywhere. You’re not looking as unappealing as normal, so I’m probably delirious. Also hot. Very hot.”

“That’s entirely subjective.”

“Dex,” Molly moaned, “I don’t want your twisted affection right now. I want to be left alone so I can feel sorry for myself in peace.”

“Whatever you wish, darling,” Dexter said, the usual tone of amusement lacing the term of endearment.

“Are you trying to make me sick?” Molly interjected.

“Molly Weasley,” Dexter said, pausing near the door to glance at her, “still sarcastic even with the addition of the norovirus.”

“Dexter Kissingate, despite the fact that his girlfriend is practically dying, is still the bigger pain in the arse.”

“I like that one,” Dexter grinned, briefly pressing a kiss to the top of Molly’s head before exiting the bathroom (and oh how Molly was jealous that he could) and apparating, much too loudly, from the kitchen.

*

It wasn’t Dexter’s cooking that’d made her sick.

Erin had, once again, managed to convince her to turn up to one of those trips, to one of those pubs with the surprising ascertain that Simrath would be there. Simrath had always been their friend, but existed on those outer perimeters of friendship that were not as binding as Erin’s doggedly persuaded sense of friendship (which involved turning down near daily invitations to get-togethers). They’d received the invites to Simrath’s wedding three years after graduating from Hogwarts and had seen little of her since, and Molly couldn’t help but be drawn to the prospect of seeing her slightly less enigmatic dorm mate (her partner in not rushing to grow up, only for her to leave Hogwarts and get married and have kids all at once).

As it happened, the pub trip was largely a chance to pin Molly down and assign an unnecessary number of adjectives to her newly discovered relationship with one Dexter Kissingate. And, of course, Simrath’s youngest child (the fact that she had multiple children was beyond comprehension, and contraception), had picked up an illness that Sim had tried very hard to convince them wasn’t contagious.

Obviously, it had been.

Roxanne, still gleaming over the fact that she’d successfully deluded someone into wanting to marry her, had set about coaching Molly though an extensive list of every relationship mistake she’d ever made and the holes in Molly’s character that they demonstrated. Meanwhile, Erin had kept squealing, demanding more information, declaring Molly’s tight lipped attitude to relaying intimate details about Dexter’s physique as a ‘travesty’ and a ‘great shame’ whilst continually ordering shots. And given Roxanne was still slightly bitter that the big reveal over Molly’s relationship with Dexter had coincided with the biggest day of her life, and therefore believed she’d stolen her thunder… and Erin had fallen into one of her emotional ‘everyone’s life is going better than mine’ ruts, it didn’t seem like they were going to be happy with any les information than might have been expected from a trashy romance novel.

Simrath had left early after some issues with her babysitter, but not early enough as to ensure that Molly avoided the nora virus. Lovely.

“Is your relationship stable?” Erin had asked, “or is more one of those rip your clothes off at a moment’s notice things?”

Molly was sure that no one actually ever ripped anyone else’s clothes off in real life, not least because it was probably quite inefficient and expensive.

“We just want one adjective to describe your relationship.” Roxanne had insisted, determined in her pursuit of dissecting their relationship in lieu of actually trying to work out how the whole eternal-bickering constant-in-joke barely functioning thing worked when they weren’t around to witness it.

Molly had insisted that you couldn’t pin any relationship down with a single adjective and there was a reason that the English Language had such a wide vernacular available, and that even then it was impossible to describe something as complex as a person or a relationship, but given that was after her forth shot of tequila she thought the eloquence of such a statement might have been lost on them somehow.

“Enough with the lesson in pretension,” Erin had grinned, ordering a bottle of wine and three glasses, “all you’ve told is that the sex is good and you like the bickering. We’re just after one word, Molly. You know a lot. Passion. Stability – ”

“-needy -”

“- secure -”

“-romantic-”

“- volatile- ”

“- lustful.”

In the end, Molly had cut them off just so they’d shut up. She’d said ‘practical’ and the pair of them were both still laughing when she left them at the pub an hour later, stumbled back to Dexter’s and accidentally woke him up, said some rather embarrassing things to Dexter about how she was in love with him, then fell asleep sprawled across his chest like a drunken idiot.

The next morning had come the hangover and then, when she’d chased the last of that away with plenty of toast and endless cups of coffee, came the nora virus.

Molly definitely did not deserve this.

*

Dexter crash landed back at the flat at half past seven accompanied by the faint the smell of beer and cigarettes clinging around his clothes. Whilst Molly didn’t exactly reckon much to Dexter’s work colleagues – Curse Breaking tended to be one of those highly masculine environments that encouraged the sort of laddish behaviour that made Molly want to burn her bras – she prided herself on the fact that she was not an anally attentive other half who was actually bothered by post-work trips to the pub. And given that Dexter was one of the lads, as much as Molly found that particular fact easy to forget, she more or less expected it.

It was not, however, acceptable under certain circumstances.

“The Healer said to take this and then you’ll be fine in fifteen minutes,” Dexter said, re-entering the bathroom with a glass of water and a flask of suspiciously orange potion, “did you actually make it out of the toilet today?”

“I slept for a bit,” Molly said, reaching out for the glass of water and feeling her hand shaking slightly, “but don’t expect yourself to be leaving the bathroom anytime soon, Dexter.”

“Oh right, well it probably is contagious, but I got a pre-emptive potion for me.”

“Not what I meant,” Molly said, eyeing the flask of potion and sizing it up. Given she hadn’t managed to consume anything – not even a cup of tea – for the past twelve hours she didn’t see how she was going to be able to drink the whole flask and keep it down for long enough for it to have an effect, but…

Molly sniffed it, swallowed, and then drank the rest in four gulps.

“Watching you necking drinks,” Dexter grinned, “brings back memories of a teenage Molly.”

“Stop making small talk and sit down,” Molly said, edging towards the toilet just in case the orange liquid was about to make a reappearance, “I’m mad at you,” Molly added as she reached for the glass of water again, “I’m really mad at you. But I haven’t got any energy to yell at you right now, so sit there and wait fifteen minutes.”

“What…?”

“Just sit there and think about what you’ve done,” Molly muttered, “I’ll be less pissed off if you work it out by the time I’ve stopped feeling sick.”

“I’m sorry I’m home late.”

“Actually,” Molly said, glancing up at him, “I take that back. I’m not less pissed. I think I might actually be more angry, but that might be the gradually returning health talking.”

“Mols...”

“No,” Molly said, holding up a slightly shaking hand, “I will not have you win this argument because I’m vulnerable. Sod off, Dex.”

“I thought I was supposed to stand here and think about what I’ve done?” Dexter pointed out, leaning against the sink and still smiling.

“Fuck off and make me a cup of tea then,” Molly said, “and stop aggravating me.”

By the time Dexter had made two cups of tea and returned to the bathroom, Molly had stopped shaking and was beginning to trust the fact that the potion had been successfully consumed. She was, however, angrier than she’d been since Roxanne had made that comment about Molly being single on account of the fact that she was still dead set on proving that she didn’t need anyone after growing up in a self-incurred bubble of isolation (bullocks, particularly given the fact that she’d been in a sort-of-secret relationship with Dexter at the time), when she’d nearly given in her maid of honour duties and told Roxanne that her whole marriage-to-be was Roxanne being dead set on proving that he didn’t have to be alone.

“Thank you,” Molly said coldly, as she took the cup of tea.

“Mols, I am sorry I was late back.”

“That’s crap,” Molly retaliated, taking a sip of tea, “you’re shit, Dexter. You’re utter shit.

“I thought you’d be asleep.”

“Don’t give me that,” Molly said, glaring at her cup of tea before she placed it down on the floor next to her, “don’t lie to me on top of the list of your other violations.”

“Violations?”

“I’m not in the mood.”

“Sorry, Mols, I know you’re sick -”

“- fifteen minutes,” Molly interrupted, louder this time, “fifteen minutes. And the Healer gave you this potions… what, six hours ago?” Dexter frowned at her. “So I’ve been stuck in this cycle of trying to ingest food, throwing up and feeling like death for five hours and forty five minutes whilst you’ve been carrying around my saviour in your pocket?”

“Molly, it wasn’t like that.”

“For Merlin’s sake,” Molly spat, “I am not some needy psychotic girlfriend who needs you to be home early, Dexter, I just think that if you have the power to stop your girlfriend suffering in fifteen minutes then that should probably be a higher property than getting a few beers in.”

“Mols,” Dexter said, face twisted into that expression that always made her resolve soften slightly.

“No!” Molly said, standing up, still feeling shaky, “because that’s just not okay.  Even if you’d just dropped the potion off here and then went and met them at the pub I wouldn’t have minded.”

“I didn’t plan to go out…”

“No,” Molly said, hotly, “and I didn’t exactly plan to stay here feeling shitty until my prat of a boyfriend decided to grace me with his present. This isn’t about you. You could have sent them in the post if you wanted  but you just let me rot in this bathroom throwing up needlessly when you could have stopped it – “

“- I didn’t want to disturb you.”

“Oh stop being such an arse,” Molly said, “I didn’t cross your mind once.”

“I went in my lunch break to go collect the potions…”

“What? You want a reward, Dex? And you know what, frankly I’m not bothered that you didn’t want to come home. If you were really sick and being a pain in the arse then, sure, I’d stay out for a couple of drinks hoping that when I got back you’d showered and stopped looking so disgusting, but I’d have given you the sodding potions first.”

“This is our first argument.”

“No it’s not,” Molly said, grabbing a bottle of ‘Clean-easy-potion’ and tipping some down the toilet before slamming the lid down, “we argue all the time.”

“This is the first argument about something.”

“Yes,” Molly said, “it’s about the fact that you couldn’t give a crap about me.”

“Molly,” Dexter said, and there was a certain weight to his voice that made Molly turn around and raise her eyebrows at him.

“What?”

“It’s just… my Dad always said that the first argument defined a relationship.”

Molly paused for a moment, derailed.

Dexter’s father had died just before they’d gotten together and Molly always thought that the moment she’d realised that Dexter valued her that way (other than the impromptu confession of love two months or so previously, obviously, but Dexter’s Dad’s death had been harder to ignore) was when she’d attended the funeral for moral support, and had an unusually quiet Dexter occasionally mentioning some of the little quirks and special individualities that made a person a person.

“You bastard,” Molly muttered, stepping towards him anyway, “don’t manipulate me with the emotional stuff.”

“Can we take a time out for a minute?” Dexter asked, stepping back from the doorway and back into his bedroom, watching at her.

“Just… look,” Molly said, following him out of the bathroom (because it was a great relief to be able to leave without being nervous that she’d have to run back any second), “No one would ever accuse me of being romantic. Flowers die and chocolates make you fat, okay? All that dancing when there’s no music nonsense… if you want to dance just put on some sodding music! I mean, seriously, it’s not a difficult concept. I firmly believe that the most romantic thing in the world is being bought toast, tea, and painkillers when you’re in bed with a hangover having utterly humiliated yourself the night before. That is me. There is however, one thing that I need.”

“I need the simple, easy practical thoughtfulness that means I show up on your list of priorities, Dexter. Just… remembering to buy fairtrade coffee when you’re shopping because that’s what I drink, even though you refute the whole concept because the supermarket gets higher margins. Adding my underwear to your washing if you think I’m about to run out. Setting a five galleons and under, practical gift only specification on Valentine’s Day. I am beyond mad because it would have taken you ten minutes to remember I existed and drop off those potions, but mostly I am upset because I would have done it for you. Okay?”

“Okay,” Dexter said, “that’s quite… quite some speech.”

“Yeah, well,” Molly said shortly, “I’ve been pretty bored all day, wondering whether the Healer had told you it was an incurable disease or something. But… like you said, time out. What did your Dad about first arguments?”

“Sorry,” Dexter said, glancing up at her for a brief second before looking down, “I didn’t mean to do that.”

Molly sighed. Whilst emotional blackmail was high up on the list of things she simply would not put up with in relationships (her friendship with Roxanne was almost entirely built on a basis of emotional blackmail, but it was very different when you were in a relationship), there were very few cracks in Dexter armour of self-assurance; the inferiority complex in regards to his admittedly rather wonderful brother and the death of his father. For someone who was so entirely well put together, Molly felt like she had to allow some of the messy stuff to seep out occasionally.

Although Molly thought she was probably the least qualified person in the universe to help with something like that, she wasn’t averse to attempting to be there to talk at.

“Dexter,” Molly said, “it’s fine. It reminded you of your Dad. I’d rather you said than just wallowed in it. What did he used to say?”

Molly sat down next to him on their bed, still feeling slightly weak and none too healthy. The potions was now beginning to make her realise that nothing she’d consumed or ingested in the last forty eight hours remained in her system. 

“Well,” Dexter said, smiling slightly, “he used to say that you could predict the length of a relationship by how the first argument went.”

“Right.”

“It was like a formula.”

“You know, Dex,” Molly said, smiling slightly, “I think I’d have really like to have known your dad a bit better. He sounds like my kind of guy.”

“Relationships as a business contract?” Dexter suggested, “Yeah, you two would have definitely gotten on well.”

“How long have we got then?” Molly asked.

“First, it depends on what the argument was about,” Dexter said, “who started it. How it was resolved. As things go… this is a pretty good argument.”

“Not really an argument,” Molly said, closing her eyes for a second, “more me yelling abuse at you.”

“I think I might have deserved it, Mols,” Dexter said, “but you get bonus points for explaining the actual issue rather than leaving me to decode it. That adds an extra two months.”

“Really?”

“Although, the fact that you’re lashing out because you’re in a bad mood takes off several weeks.”

“Bad mood?” Molly questioned. “Dexter, I’ve never felt so rough in my life and that includes the morning after Roxanne’s Hen do. Bad doesn’t cover how terrible I feel right now.”

“Sorry,” Dexter said, “Mols, I am sorry. The guys… they were nagging me about us being all domestic after I went to get your potions. Said you’d been staying at mine for a bit, then they wanted details and practically dragged me to the pub. I know that’s a shitty excuse but…”

“Oh no,” Molly countered, “lovely. I’m glad that whilst I was throwing up endless slices of wrongly optimistic toast in your bathroom, you were publically dissecting our sex life to your arsey mates for two hours.”

“Mols,” Dexter said, “I’ll pour my pre-emptive potion down the sink and suffer if you want. I’m shit. Please forgive me.”

“It’s not a big deal,” Molly said, “except it is to me, because I thought you understood what I wanted from you.”

“Which is… a five galleons and under, practical gift on Valentine’s Day?” Dexter questioned, smiling only slightly as he took in her reaction.

“Once,” Molly said, frowning, “this guy bought me flowers.

“Good god,” Dexter said, “did you need therapy?”

“I felt violated,” Molly said, “if you don’t understand, within half an hour of meeting me, that I’m very happy with the fact that romance is dead then I’m obviously not making the right first impression. So why would anyone who knew me buy something like that and think I should be pleased about it?”

“Can I cook you dinner, Mols, or is that too romantic?”

“If I don’t eat in the next half an hour I’m going to faint,” Molly said, folding her arms over her stomach, “and I’m certainly not cooking myself food. Get to it, Dex.”

“Pasta?”

“You’re shit at cooking just about everything else,” Molly said, pulling herself up to her feet and walking into the kitchen, “so I guess pasta will have to do.”

“I have a reason for why they’d buy you flowers,” Dexter continued, “to wind you up.”

“If you dare, Dexter.”

“Why so much animosity towards the romance?”

“Why is everyone so convinced I need a reason? I just don’t ascribe to it. I just don’t get it. Everyone has these presubscribed versions of relationships where there are lots of flowers and chocolates and, I don’t know, love letters and that crap. And all that happens is that everyone ends up with this set of ideals that doesn’t exist, fathoming their relationships into romances and crashing down hard when they realise they’ve been deluding themselves. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with me because I think of love practically.”

“Guess not,” Dexter said just as the kettle boiled again, “another cup of tea?”

“Yeah, thanks,” Molly said, glancing up at him, “I’m not saying that I don’t think our relationship is special, Dexter. I just think that I’d rather save up and build a life together than waste money on extravagant gifts designed to advertise to everyone else how happy we are. I don’t want to be alone, but I don’t see why everyone else has such a problem with it.”

“Practicality,” Dexter repeated, pushing a cup of tea over to her side of the table and taking the seat opposite, “not very sexy though, is it Mols.”

“That’s what I told the others at the pub,” Molly admitted, “they were nagging me to describe our relationship and they found the whole thing hilarious when I said practical.” Dexter grinned. “Apparently, they wanted details about how you make me weak at the knees and regularly sweep me off my feet and into a girly mess. It seems they’ve been waiting my whole life for someone to make me understand romance.”

Dexter was still grinning at her.

 “Molly,” Dexter practically beamed, “you described our relationship as practical which you’ve just admitted is the height of your idea of romance.”

“Well?”

“That’s good, then,” Dexter said, “if you decode that from Molly speak, you told your friend our relationship was perfect.” Molly flushed slightly. “I think you just resurrected romance.”

“Shut up,” Molly said, “or I’ll kill it again.”

“So I don’t make you weak at the knees, then?” Dexter asked, standing up and checking on the pasta with a grin still plastered all over his face.

“Honestly, Dexter, right now standing makes me weak at the knees,” Molly said, smiling ever so slightly, “hurry up with my food, and I’ll think about dropping the length of time I’m going to be mad at you for.”

“For what it’s worth,” Dexter said, stirring the pasta sauce with one hand and looking back at her with the other, “I thought your grammatical propositioning of me was very romantic.”

“I thought it was practical.”

“Perfect,” Dexter said, grinning. “You are, of course, utterly mad Molly. But I think I like your version of romance better than the exes.”

“Hmm,” Molly said, watching him thoughtfully, “you’re the first person who seems to at least try and understand somewhat. I’m not deliberately trying to rebel against the concept, as Roxanne says – you can have all the flowery, dramatic proposals you like. I will silently judge you, but I’ll probably do that anyway. I just think people miss the point.”

“Which is?”

“The point,” Molly said, pausing to take a sip of tea, “is the fact that I love you and you love me. We both know that. And the world is so full of people who are much worse than you and who don’t care about either of us and are more than happy to screw us over, that it’s probably better to face it together. The point is that I like coming back from work and knowing that you want me, and like me, and that I’m your list of priorities. The point is that I’m happier with you than without you, so getting all frustrated about the fact that you forgot our anniversary or failed on some stupid relationship politics thing is just… pointless.”

“Did you give Phil that speech?”

“No,” Molly admitted, “Phil got upset and insecure if I didn’t tell him I loved him every day, as though it might suddenly have changed overnight.”

“Did it?”

“Yeah,” Molly admitted, shrugging her shoulders slightly, “people tend to think I’m unfeeling, I guess. That’s not it. I’m just practical.”

“Perfect.”

Molly made a face but let it slide. Normally, something like that would have driven her insane: firstly, she was entirely aware that she was not perfect but that did not mean she wasn’t good enough – having had to deal with the residue of teen angst and the way that life fucked up everyone who lived it a little bit, she was well aware of the many imperfections and blemishes, but she liked the fact that life had left its mark on her somewhat – and then there was the fact that it was one of those clichéd phrases that girls were supposed to die over. Why, exactly, should she want to be perfect? It was clearly an impossible ideal designed to put people under pressure. She was, however, going to let it slide because the whole comment was based upon what she suspected was going to be one of their in-jokes, privately calling things practical when they meant perfect until they were old and wrinkled.

“Alice,” Dexter said, “got upset when I bought her more parchment for her birthday.”

“Did she need more parchment?” Molly asked.

“Yeah,” Dexter said, “apparently my lack of thought as to her gift showed that I didn’t value our relationship.”

“This is what I mean,” I said, shaking my head slightly, “it didn’t mean that at all. It meant she needed parchment and you saved her a trip to Flourish and Blotts. Did you value your relationship?”

“No,” Dexter admitted, “I didn’t.”

“Funny how these small worries seem to be based on legitimate reasons for concern,” Molly said thoughtfully, “maybe there’s a formula for that.”

“Okay,” Dexter said, “I don’t know about you, particularly after my fuck up today, but I’d quite like us to remain in this highly practical arrangement. So let’s stick with the pre-emptive stuff again, what’s your biggest relationship worry?”

“That this pasta will take such a long time that I’ll eat you,” Molly said, glancing over at the pan, “no, I guess it’s that I’ll mess it up, as I invariably always do, and then I’ll have fucked over our friendship too and they’ll be no one to bicker with at Hogwarts Reunions. Yours?”

“The same, actually,” Dexter said, “Not about the cannibalism, that’s far too kinky for you. Plus, the pasta’s ready and you haven’t even got a nibble in.”

“Practical,” Molly said, smiling at him for a minute, “I worried about the lack of romance too, I think. I was terrified if we were in a relationship you’d think that meant you could quote poetry at me and buy my jewellery.”

“Legitimate fears,” Dexter said, his lips quirking up slightly, “considering you’re so laid back about some things, Mols, I’m surprised you managed to screw up so many relationships.”

“Well,” Molly said, spearing a piece of pasta on her fork and contemplating it feeling instantly better about everything, “I think it doesn’t help that I am a cold and slightly frigid bitch, and like being alone, and that all of my boyfriends were so wrong for me that I’m not even sure why I even bothered.”

“And I’m right for you, am I?”

“You made me pasta,” Molly said between mouthfuls, “right now, I’d even go as far as to say that you’re perfect.”

Molly smiled. Her sudden worries that Dexter didn’t actually care about her or think about her aside (and they were being quashed somewhat by logic, the presence of tea and food and Dexter sat opposite watching her eat and grinning for no reason), she didn’t ever remember having a conversation about her view on relationships with someone without them accusing her of just wanting to justify the fact that no one wanted her.

Roxanne, of course, was bound to translate what Molly was saying to something ridiculous. Erin was such a hopeless romantic and always caught up in something pealed straight from some mediocre chick lit that she’d never really get it. Her work colleagues were all too keen to think of her as a bit strange. And all past boyfriends seemed to be slightly offended by the fact that she didn’t want heart shaped chocolates (they tasted better when they were circular, and didn’t make her want to snap each individual chocolate in half), but Dexter…

Dexter seemed to get the point and even managed to turn it on its head and classify it as Molly’s brand of romance, with in jokes and practical means perfect and maybe he had left her throwing up all day, but the pasta wasn’t bad and he was nice to have around.

She wouldn’t quite say weak at the knees (she wasn’t twelve), but there was a nice giddy euphoria on occasions, and she liked the way he kissed her in the kitchen (even though she pretended she didn’t) and the fact that he took all the bits and pieces of Molly that made her herself in his stride. He was amused by them, but not in a mocking sort of way.

And Dexter had very nice arms.

“You know,” Dexter said, “Dad always said hot make up sex could add up to a year onto a relationship.”

“Really?”

“Yeah,” Dexter said, “apparently, it gives an immediate incentive to end the argument.”

“Hmm.”

“And,” Dexter continued, still watching her, “Dad did say that he thought we should get together.”

“Got to respect a man’s wishes,” Molly pondered, taking another bite of her pasta, “wouldn’t want to taint our relationship.”

“Exactly.”

“It’s going to take me at least half an hour to finish eating and then wash up, Dex,” Molly said, glancing up at him, “and then ten minute to remember that I’m angry at you again. Then another ten minute to not look like a disgusting vomit machine, which would probably be helpful towards the goal of hot make up sex.”

“So?” Dexter prompted.

“You’d probably have time to sort out the laundry.”

“Practical,” Dexter smiled, standing up.

“Exactly,” Molly said, smiling at him for a split second before deciding that, for now, the pasta and her stomach was a much more significant priority.

“I think you’ll need at least twenty minutes on the looking healthy front.”” Dexter said, leaning over the table to kiss her forehead before disappearing into the bedroom to sift through the week’s worth of dirty laundry.

Perfect. 




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