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Chapter 1 : King of Anything
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“It’s just not working out anymore Mols.” She hated it when anyone but her parents called her Mols. The jerk sitting in front of her most definitely did not have the privilege to do so.
“It’s not you, it’s me.” That was a blatant lie, and both of them knew it. However, Molly couldn’t work herself up to really care. He should have realised that things were going to be different after Hogwarts. They weren’t in school anymore. There was nothing forcing them to be in each other’s company now. Not that it had been like that in the beginning.
“I just don’t think we want the same things in life.” With this last statement, Molly wholeheartedly agreed. She didn’t know what she wanted from life, exactly, but it most certainly wasn’t the man sitting across from her anymore. The idiot had dragged them to his favourite café to dump her. If she hadn’t hated the place before, what with its lukewarm instant coffee, stale shortbread, rickety wrought-iron tables and chairs, and a front window that was so clean that the reflected sunlight was mildly blinding – she did now. She was glad that she’d never have to see the inside of this stupid little place ever again if only he would just shut up already.
She could have stopped him, she knew that. She could have just got up and left. As the jilted party, she was well within her rights to do so. But, whilst the coffee was way below par it was, unsurprisingly, over-priced, so Molly felt obliged to at least finish it. Besides, the beverage was so cold that all the sugar had sunk to the bottom. That was something to look forward to.
She also thought about that sad, stupid quote about love. Had it been Lily who’d told it to her over the summer after spending almost all of her time reading The New York Times’ Best Selling List, or had it been Albus’ recently-returned girlfriend, who was prone to sprouting random things that would make sense later?
It had to have been Lily. She was quite sure that Al’s girlfriend wasn’t the type to read The New York Times’ Best Selling List indiscriminately.
No matter who had said it, the point still stood. The truth was, Molly Weasley really thought this was the best she could do. It wasn’t too shabby, if one was being completely objective. They’d been going out since Hogwarts – and they’d graduated two years ago. She was beginning her third and final year of Auror training, and he was beginning his third and final year of Healer training. Until July, they’d even been considering moving in together.
Then something had changed. Molly had bumped into an old dorm-buddy from her days at Hogwarts. Agatha Painsley-Bumbershuffle had somehow convinced Molly to have lunch to “catch up”. Then, Agatha Painsley-Bumbershuffle had proceeded to spend the next forty-five minutes telling Molly in minute detail all about her perfect life. She was certain that she was going high places in the Ministry, having followed a similar path to the one her father Percy Weasley, who was now at those fabled high places. She had become recently engaged to the son of a businessman with a billion-galleon (US, mind. No one would be so crass as to measure their corporate wealth in terms of British currency) empire. When Molly had ventured to ask if the son had followed in daddy dearest’s footsteps, she’d learnt that the poor fellow had actually run away from his overbearing family, and was currently interning as a low-ranking reporter for the Daily Prophet. The unlucky blighter had had the misfortune to run into Agatha Painsley-Bumbershuffle however – Agatha assured Molly that they would both be returning to the States for Christmas, where she and the poor boy’s father would convince him to join the family business. For the bloke’s sake, Molly hoped that the family business was undertaking. Imagine the discount on his coffin!
And whilst Agatha had droned on and on, Molly had begun thinking. Is this what was in store for her life, too? A perfect career, with a perfect husband, and a perfect home, where even the household cat would be perfect? Is this really what Molly had signed up for all those years ago when her father had convinced her that the best grades and a shiny Prefect’s badge was the only way to succeed in life?
If becoming like Agatha, or spending the rest of her life with someone so ridiculously perfect as the jerk who was currently dumping her were also part of that success plan, then was it really worth it?
We accept the love we think we deserve.
Well, Molly Weasley decided as she drained her now stone-cold coffee and looked up to see her ex-boyfriend still jabbering on. We’ll see about that.
Because Molly Weasley had made up her mind. She was going to accept the love she thought she deserved. She was going to accept a whole lot more than love – she didn’t know quite what all that was, but she was going to accept it. Hell, she’d reach across the proverbial table and snatch it all up into her greedy arms if she had to.
One thing she knew for certain though. She definitely deserved a whole lot more than what she was getting now. And that was just not on.
Molly Weasley was going to change her life, and she was going to do it now.
Perhaps I should have decided to change my life tomorrow, Molly thought as she found herself, once again, at a table.
The table in question was much nicer than the one of the afternoon, but Molly was beginning to think that tables were going to play a significant role in all her life decisions. Like, right now, she was going to tell her parents that she’d dumped her boring boyfriend’s perfectly boring arse – at least, she had dumped him in her head. As the jilted party she was allowed to decorate the break-up as she saw fit. No one would think lowly of her if she did. Much.
Yes. She was going to do it. Just as soon as there was a lull in the conversation.
“Pass the salt,” her father said from her right. Okay, there wasn’t much conversation, as it was only her and her parents for dinner. Her younger sister, Lucy, had just left for her fifth year at Hogwarts last week.
Molly passed the salt. Still, she should wait for something before sharing her news.
“How was your day, Mols?” Her father asked, jiggling the salt shaker vigorously over the lamb risotto. After his last visit to the Healers for a general check-up, he really shouldn’t have, but Percy Weasley had always believed that nothing should come between a man and his salt – not even dangerously high sodium levels.
“I broke up with Johnny,” Molly blurted out.
The salt shaker stopped moving.
Her mother’s fork and knife clattered to meet her plate.
Molly internally winced. Oh, why couldn’t she have learnt something off Lucy? Her little sister was a master at manipulating the situation to her advantage. Molly wasn’t sure if this was the reason she was in Slytherin, or being in Slytherin had taught her to be crafty. Perhaps it was a little of both. Either way, Molly fervently hoped that one day, she’d learn how to break news in a way which didn’t make everyone act like she’d declared that she had a terminal illness.
“What?” her mother cried, hands flying to her cheeks.
“Well… he broke up with me, actually,” Molly replied casually, shuffling her pile of uneaten risotto from one end of her plate to the other.
“Did you two get into a fight?” her father asked gently.
Molly shook her head, still absorbed in her task. Every last grain had to make it to the other side before she could start shuffling it all back.
“Then why would he… Sweetheart!” Audrey cried. Not for the first time, Molly wondered how someone as staid and reserved as her father had managed to fall in love, marry, then have children with a woman who had such a flair for the dramatic arts.
And to think, they’d actually eloped. It must have been her mother’s idea.
“Mum – it’s okay,” Molly tried to explain. “This is a good thing.”
“How on earth is this a good thing?” Audrey cried. “Who will marry you now?”
“Mum! I’m twenty years old!”
“Exactly! You don’t have long before your biological clock stops ticking!”
Molly looked at her father for help, who simply shrugged and stabbed a piece of lamb with his fork. She was on her own, then.
“You were almost thirty when you had me,” Molly reminded her mother.
“Well… that’s hardly the point here!” her mother spluttered. “I was lucky enough to find your father when I did!”
Molly shrugged. “I’ve still got time, then.”
“But – but –”
“What I think your mother is trying to say,” Percy interjected, having finally chewed his piece of lamb. “Is that she thought –” A glance down the table told him that wasn’t the right thing to say. “We thought that you’d already found someone. Sweetheart,” Now Percy dropped his fork into his plate and reached for his daughter’s hand. “We thought you were happy.”
“Well, I’m not!” Molly cried.
Another shocked silence.
Another internal wince. There were ways to say such things – even Molly knew there was no need just to shout them at the first chance she got.
Her mother cried out and flung her hands in the air, forgetting that she’d picked up her fork again. The fork flew in a beautiful arc behind Audrey’s head, only to clutter ungracefully to a stop on the wooden floor. Molly couldn’t help but feel as if this was some sort of metaphor for her life.
“Mols…” her father began, but apparently couldn’t think of anything else to say. Molly sympathised. What could one say to their daughter after such a declaration?
“What do you mean you’re not happy?” her mother screeched. Apparently, her mother did not share that belief with her husband.
“I’m not happy means I’m not happy!” Molly cried. And to think, her teachers at Hogwarts used to commend her for her beautifully worded essays. Her Potions professor had confided that he’d almost cried once after a particularly moving piece on the twelve uses of dragon’s blood.
“Sweetheart…” her father was still stuck saying only endearments, so pitying him, Molly decided to elaborate.
“My job sucks! I train almost twelve hours a day, and when I get home, what do I do? Oh, more training! I haven’t had a single day off since the day I started fifth year at Hogwarts, because I’m terrified that if I don’t study every single minute I’m going to fall behind, or those stupid Prefect rosters won’t be done, or that I’ll fail my poisons exam! And don’t even get me started on Johnny! It was all ‘oh, I saved a man from dying today’ or ‘why don’t you do something with your hair, Molly? Red really isn’t your colour’ or ‘you never have time for me anymore. Don’t you love me?’! And for what? So that I could end up like Agatha Painsley-Bumbershuffle, with her perfect career, with her perfect fiancé, and her perfect life? No thank you!” Molly heaved a deep breath in the ensuing silence. Both her parents sat frozen in their seats, the lamb risotto forgotten on plates, and stared at her in surprise, and something that might have been fear if Molly were the type to inspire such strong emotions in people.
Her breathing back in control, Molly returned to shuttling the cold rice across her plate. She viciously flicked a piece of lamb that got in her way. It flew off across the plate, only to hit the edge, then plop back into the mound of risotto rice from whence it came.
“Do you want a holiday?” her mother asked brightly.
“Who is Agatha Painsley-Bumbershuffle?” her father asked bemusedly.
Molly sighed. It seemed as if that piece of lamb had provided her with another metaphor for her life.
Her plan to get what she deserved was most decidedly not off to a good start.
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