2006 Nov: Visit after graduation Who: Molly Prewett and Arthur Weasley What: Molly had never been good at resisting temptation in the form of Arthur When: November 2006 (waaaaaay back) Where: Arthur’s flat Warnings: Language. Some smooches.
Molly felt so foolish at the moment. It’d only been about four months since graduation, since she’d left the UK; but most pressingly it had been four months since she’d last seen Arthur Weasley.
Her time in Italy had started out great. She’d met loads of interesting wizards and witches, learned new culture and bits of a language. It was brilliant how similar but also different wizards thrived in another country and the healing internship she started there was so fulfilling in all ways but one.
Whenever she saw two people kissing or holding hands or laughing happily together, she got an aching burn in her chest that nearly made her sick. She tried to ignore it, considered trying to snog some random person from a pub (the snogging a random person bit had worked with Arthur, after all), but she could easily find fault in any bloke she considered. Molly spent an inordinate number of nights lying awake in bed thinking about Arthur’s face, his hands, his stupidly kissable lips. It was enough to drive any woman insane.
So now she was here, standing at the door to his flat at 10:00pm (on a weekday in which she was fairly certain he’d have to work the next morning), rocking back and forth on her feet, looking for enough courage to actually knock. She hadn’t so much as messaged him to say she would be coming and she’d been in town for hours before she had mustered the bravery to make it to this spot. The only thing that spurned her into the action of knocking now was the thought of seeing Arthur’s face again, now, in person, and not as a vague afterthought in her mind.
It took a few moments for the knock to wake him up. Arthur sat up in bed, blinking slowly as his eyes searched for the clock, not finding it. Clearly, he’d charmed it into oblivion once again after the last time it woke him.
“I’m coming!” he called to the knock. “No matter how much of an emergency this is, I’m going to need trousers for it!” Arthur rolled from beneath the covers, shivering a little as the cold air hit his skin, prickling bare legs. He knew very well what kind of emergency this was going to be--Mrs. Puddle wanting help with clearing doxies out from under the sink or the landlord telling him that he’d played his music too loud three nights before or else one of the blokes from school coming to ask him if they could take a kip on the couch because they weren’t in any shape to Apparate home. And, Arthur thought as he tugged his trousers on, he was likely to agree to whatever they wanted. Which would then start the whole bloody cycle all over again.
Someday, he thought as he stumbled on a bottle of butterbeer, stubbing his toe and hopping to the door. Someday, I’ll say no. Maybe even tonight. He held his aching foot up, steeling himself to say the words, and stiffened his chin as he swung the door open, still standing on one leg.
And promptly lost any resolve he might have had.
“Molly?” he said, blinking stupidly as he saw her. “But you’re gone.”
Somewhere in her mind, Molly had thought that he just wouldn’t answer at all. That she would have to turn around, head back to Italy, and find a way to get over this whole thing she and Arthur had started. So when he was there in front of her again, her brain sputtered and she was left staring sort of blankly at his sleep rumpled hair and that damned face of his.
“I…” she began, but nothing really came to mind then but general observation. “I woke you up,” she landed on lamely and was aware that her face was heating up from embarrassment at waking him up, at showing up out of nowhere, at how stupid the first thing she said to him was.
He was trying very hard not to stare at her again but it was hard. How many times had he dreamt of her showing up on his doorstep--well, he shook his head. It was definitely better not to think about that right now.
“Me? Oh, well, no--” He looked down and realized that he’d forgotten to put on a shirt. “Yes. I suppose you did.” Arthur managed an embarrassed smile. “Do you want--would you like to come inside? I promise I’ll finish dressing.” Merlin, he could feel the red creeping out of his hair and into his cheeks.
Of course Molly wanted to go inside. She’d literally come all this way just to see him, not that she’d ever bloody say that. But she was already reneging on this entire idea in her head. She had been stupid to come here like this. “But you were sleeping,” she protested with a vague gesture into his flat. “I should probably just… go.” Glancing down over his bare chest didn’t really steel her resolve toward leaving and despite her last words she didn’t move, just hovered there in his doorway awkwardly.
No, no, no, you can’t leave, he thought so strongly he blushed, worried for a moment that he’d said it aloud. Instead, he shook his head, at a momentary loss for words, and reached out for her. He wanted to hug her but instead he touched her shoulder, just grazing it with his fingertips.
“Come in,” Arthur said. Then, worried he’d sounded too cold, he added, “Please.”
Molly looked down at her shoulder where his hand had been for a moment and seemed to be jolted into the present again. “Oh--kay,” she said slowly in response and stepped forward into his flat, slightly glad to have something to focus on besides his half-naked form. She’d never seen a place where Arthur lived outside of the Gryffindor dormitories, so she was curious.
“Uh, what happened to your foot?” she asked as she only just registered that he was holding it up awkwardly as he’d answered the door.
“Oh,” he glanced down. “Just stubbed my toe running for the door.”
He looked around the room, realizing that he hadn’t cleaned in weeks. The living room was covered in piles of jumpers and socks, a couch supported only by piles and books and half-knitted afghans thrown on it to hide the stains. Empty boxes from takeout blinked at them, the people in the illustrations looking vaguely offended that Arthur had simply forgotten to drop any of them into the rubbish bin.
He sighed heavily, wondering what Molly must think of him. He wondered if it would get any worse if he picked a jumper off the floor and put it on.
“It doesn’t normally look like this,” he offered weakly as he grabbed a load of laundry off the couch to make room for her to sit, trying to sniff it so that she wouldn’t notice that he was trying to determine whether or not it was clean. “Have a seat. I’ll just, um, put something else on. And tea. Would you like tea?” He disappeared before she even had a chance to speak, half-running to the kitchen so that he could charm it spotless by the time she discovered it.
“I’m sure it doesn’t,” Molly replied, raising an amused eyebrow at that comment. She didn’t have much to really say about the mess, though, as she wasn’t much better. Molly had never much liked cleaning. Still, she liked how it showed her something of Arthur after graduation, living in his own space rather than sharing with four other boys.
She opened her mouth to reply to his question, but he’d already walked off into the other room so she closed it and kept looking around rather than sitting. She was filled with nervous energy being here, close to him again. It felt like it’d been ages since they’d last seen one another, but that might have had more to do with the constant quarters they’d kept for seven years. Curious, she followed him into the kitchen after a moment without being invited. “How has the Ministry been?” she asked once he was in sight again.
“Brilliant!” he said, forgetting to be shy in his enthusiasm. “They've placed me in Muggle Artefacts, you know, and I'm sure that any day now, they'll start sending me out to the field.” It might only be to fetch coffee but Arthur was quite sure that would only be the beginning. “I know it isn't as glamorous as being an Auror but the things I get to see everyday, Molly!”
It was impossible to listen to Arthur’s enthusiasm about Muggle things and not smile. Molly obviously didn’t care that much about the subject, but she had always enjoyed watching Arthur talk about it. He could light up a room with his zeal and it always made her feel warm and comfortable, just like now. Like she hadn’t just shown up nearing midnight at his home without any warning just to catch up. She always felt normal around him.
“That’s brilliant, Arthur,” she said fondly, leaning against the doorframe of the kitchen. “Being an Auror is overrated anyway,” she added with a small smirk.
He sighed. “Tell it to my colleagues.”
Realizing that he hadn’t yet offered Molly a cup of tea, he began fussing in the drawers to find a tea bag. He was trying very hard not to focus on the fact that she was standing there in the kitchen in the middle of the night, close enough to embrace. What would she do if he reached for her? Arthur battled that back, saying instead, “But that’s going on and on about me. You’re the one who’s been off having proper adventures. Tell me all about it.”
He said the words, then thought that perhaps he didn’t want to know about all of her adventures.
Molly laughed, shaking her head. “I wouldn’t call it an adventure, necessarily, but I suppose it has been rather interesting. I’m just doing a healing internship and trying to learn the language. Turns out I’m not that great at it though. Er, the language bit I mean. The healing isn’t so bad.”
It was nice watching him move around with his back to her while he fussed around in the kitchen. Maybe she was biased considering he had still forgotten to put a shirt on, but even besides that. It was just good to be near him. She hadn’t realised how much she’d relied on it until they’d gone their separate ways and being back here wasn’t going to make it easier when she left for Italy again.
“Do you like Italy?” What he really meant, though he wouldn’t ask, was whether she was planning to stay.
She opened her mouth to respond and then realised she didn’t have a proper answer for that. At first it’d been great - all the new things to see and do. But eventually she started to feel itchy and confined and she thought maybe that was caused by her consistent want to always be moving and she already felt like she was standing still again.
Here, now, in this room, she felt completely normal.
“No. Yes? I’m not really sure. It’s fun, but I’m not sure how much longer I’ll stay there. Ready for something else, I guess.”
“It must be bloody amazing though. All the history and buildings and such. My mum once told me she’d spent summers there quite often as a child,” He found the tea bags and set the box on the counter before he picked up the kettle, a little distant as he thought of his mother. She wanted him to set his sights high- to remember that he was half-Black and of an ancient legacy. He continued bustling around as he added, “They took my brothers once, I think. But I was too young to go, she said.”
Setting the kettle on the oven, he murmured a charm to warm the water. “What sort of tea? And how do you like it? I’ve probably got some milk. Sugar, even.” Arthur gave her a lopsided smile, wondering how many cups of tea he could ply her with to get her to stay. “I do want to hear more about what you’re doing. That was an awfully vague answer, Miss Prewett.” His mouth pursed as he mimicked the voice of their Potions professor, a man he’d never been terribly fond of.
Anytime Molly or Arthur brought up their parents, it always made Molly uncomfortable. Especially their mothers. It certainly wasn’t Arthur’s fault, but there it was. She cleared her throat and tried to move past it quickly. “Buildings have never really been my thing.” She wasn’t much for history at all, but more about culture and how things were in the now.
Molly waved his question away and moved to lean against the counter near him instead. “Whatever you’ve got is fine. Don’t worry about it.” She smiled over at him before looking back at the kitchen at large. She sighed a little at him pressing for more. “There’s not much to tell, honestly. I go to training and then I just sort of mingle around. Meet new people. See new things. I rode on a gondola, watched some theater, danced with strangers, ate a lot of pasta. I live in a hostel with like seven other people in the same room. It’s really not that glamorous.”
“Are you seeing anyone?” he asked, then winced.
That certainly wasn’t the question she’d expected from him. Was that what he’d been after the whole time? Surely not. Maybe? Her cheeks coloured slightly as she replied, albeit a bit slowly, “No, I’m not,” before adding more bluntly, “Are you?”
“Who would I see?” Arthur said with a self-conscious laugh. What he truly meant was that there was no woman who would ever compare to the flame-haired girl standing in his kitchen. But she wasn't planning to stay and he knew in his heart that declarations of love, no matter how true, just simply wouldn't be fair. Not now.
But he poured her cup of tea with a sloppy hand wishing just a little that he didn't always feel so compelled to do the right thing.
Molly snorted a laugh and gestured vaguely at him. “Oh I don’t know… anyone?” She was well aware that Arthur had always been a little clueless when it came to how appealing he was, but she’d never made much of an effort to drive the point home with him. She found that spending her time with him snogging should have made it rather obvious. Molly really didn’t need to be thinking about snogging him right now, especially when he had still managed not to put a bloody top on. Even if she enjoyed it, it was hardly helpful to the situation.
When she saw Arthur sloshing the boiling water about while he poured the tea, she was unable to stop herself from putting her hand over his on the handle to stop him. “You okay?”
“Yes,” he said, staring down at their clasped hands. How right it felt, to have her fingers over his. Like they hadn't ever been apart. “And no. I haven't been seeing anyone.”
Arthur lifted his eyes to Molly's. “I couldn't.”
Apparently now was the time that Molly remembered to blush. Rather furiously, just as Arthur looked up at her and she realised just how bloody close they were now. She slowly withdrew her hand from his and placed it awkwardly on the counter top. “W-why is that?” she asked even though she may already have the answer. She was in a similar situation herself, not that it was something she was confessing to.
She'd taken her hand from his. That was the first thing he fixed on, dully realizing that perhaps his fears were right. He swallowed, his throat completely dry, but didn't stop looking at her. She was blushing--what did that mean?
“I'm sorry,” he mumbled, finally dropping his gaze with a shrug. He took a couple steps back, took a breath, then said, “I know you just came here to…” Then Arthur paused and cocked his head. “I don't know why you came here, actually.”
Molly wished desperately that he’d answered that question, but instead he’d posed the one she had no intention of answering. “Here in London? I was er… visiting the twins.” Plausible answer, even though she hadn’t actually seen Fabian or Gideon yet.
“Oh. Yes, of course.” He deflated when she spoke the words. It felt ridiculous standing in front of her like this with his hopes so high and just then, he realized that he never had found that shirt which made the feeling even worse.
“Ah,” he gestured to his bare shoulders. “I'll be right back.” He also needed a moment to collect himself, to be the man his parents expected him to be which decidedly included not calling out incoherent and unwanted declarations of love to Molly Prewett in the early hours of the morning. Arthur slipped away down the hall, not intending to go all the way into the bedroom, just to grab a yellow jumper he'd noticed piled up on the floor earlier.
This wasn’t how she’d wanted this to go. She never knew how to speak to him without things getting too complicated. Everything between them was always a delicate waltz and she had never been good at dancing.
“No, Arthur, wait--” she called after him and spun around, following him quickly down the hall. She reached for his arm to stop him and said quickly, “I wanted to see you. That’s why I’m here. In your flat, I mean.”
He stiffened a little when she touched him but swept up the jumper with his spare hand, balling it up against his chest and trying to recover a little dignity.
“Yes. Of course or you wouldn't be here.” His tone made it clear that he thought himself no more than a distraction. “Don't fuss over it, Molly.”
It felt like he’d completely shut down on her which was absolutely not what she had wanted to happen coming here. Why was she always making things like this happen? “I’m not fussing, Arthur, you--”
She maneuvered herself around so that she was in front of him properly but still held his elbow in her hand. “I missed you,” she confessed quietly, face burning red and she held his gaze for as long as she could stand it before glancing down.
He touched her cheek, wanting so badly to kiss her. Instead, he let his fingers show the tenderness he felt, trailing them along her jaw until he'd cupped her face. Then he tried to tip her head up just so he could see her eyes.
“I shouldn't be glad to hear it,” he whispered, stammering just a little. “B-but I am.”
Merlin, she hadn’t felt a touch like that in far too long. It was just automatic that Molly leant her cheek into his hand and followed it when he pushed her head to look up, her hand clasping around his forearm now.
“Why shouldn’t you be glad?” she asked, confusion in her voice. It seemed like an odd thing to say.
“I-I- well, you're there and I'm here. You went to explore the whole wide world and I… just… stayed.” How could he tell her how afraid he'd been when she went away? Arthur knew he couldn't. It would be like trying to lure a wild bird with the promise of a cage.
Molly shook her head slightly as she stepped closer to him. “That doesn’t matter, Arthur.” An untruth, but one she was willing to set aside at the moment for her own selfish desires. When she was standing close enough, she leant up on her toes and pressed her mouth softly against his.
He closed his eyes and gave into the kiss, even though he knew it was a mistake. His arms slipped around her as he leaned down, deepening their embrace for just a little longer before he pulled away.
“Do you want to stay?” he asked. “Tonight?” Arthur could settle for that even if it was all Molly could to give. He was used to settling, perhaps not with her but with everything else in his life. Having her even for a night would be better than nothing at all.
Molly pressed her hands against his chest as they kissed, sighing in contentment even as he pulled away. Regardless of how hard she fought against this thing they’d built between them in school, she was never quite strong enough to win the battle. She was back now and who knew if she would ever stop coming back?
“Yes,” she nodded. “Please.” She didn’t know if he was only offering her a place to sleep or something more, but she realised she would be fine with either. She just really wanted to be near him.
“Come on then,” he tugged her hand shyly. “I'll show you the rest of the flat, if you like. Though it's probably nothing compared to an Italian villa.” Though sweet Circe, he hoped the sight of his bedroom didn't send her running in the other direction. Some days, he wished he'd let his mother send him a house elf after all.
Molly rolled her eyes, squeezing his hand as he led her by it. “I do not have an Italian villa, Arthur Weasley,” she argued, though her voice remained fond. “I haven’t even my own flat, so you’re already one up on me. Though if it’s anything like what I’ve already seen, I suppose I need to watch out for errant objects looking to attack my toes.”
“Mmmm… no comment.” His laugh echoed through the hall. “But I can charm away the mess if you like.” He stopped in front of a door. “There it is. The bedroom. Bathroom's on the other side. Grand tour complete.”
Arthur grinned again and squeezed her hand, hiding the insecurity that he felt. Should I offer to take the couch? Does she want to be here to sleep or snog or what? Merlin. He realized that he was actually sweating a little and flushed.
“Had I known the tour would be so long, I would’ve ordered some popcorn for the ride,” Molly laughed with a shake of her head. She looked over at him when he’d squeezed her hand, but he didn’t seem to have anything to say. He looked a little sick, if she were honest. “Are you alright?” she asked for the second time that night, placing her palm against his forehead. “You look like you’ve caught a fever. Maybe you should go back to bed. I shouldn’t have woken you this late.”
“Um, no, I’m fine.” This was embarrassing. Truth be told, it was a little late but Arthur wasn’t willing to admit that now. “So, what--where--um, what would you like to do? Are you tired?” He was falling all over himself trying not to ask the obvious. Then again, Arthur reflected, perhaps it wasn’t so very obvious.
Molly smiled as he tripped over his words. It was cute to watch him do it, though she knew when it happened to her it was entirely uncomfortable. She brushed her hand along his arm. “C’mon, Arthur,” she said easily, taking his hand to walk into his bedroom, but then she stopped. “Oh. Er. Do you want me to sleep on the couch?”
“Not at all,” he said but it was so soft that it wasn’t much more than a whisper. If they did this, he knew that he’d belong to Molly forever, no matter what country she ran off to or who she eventually fell in love with for good. His fingers laced around hers and squeezed. But wasn’t that already true, no matter how hard he tried to deny it? At least they could have this moment and, Arthur reflected, that was better than spending the rest of his life wondering.
“I want you to stay,” he said and this time, his voice was stronger. “For as long as you will.”
Her response was just to kiss him rather than unpack the emotional ramifications of what he was saying to her. She didn’t want to think on these things, she just wanted to be here now and let the pieces fall where they would. As they walked into his bedroom, she closed the door behind them.