“Mols, want to play Gobstones with me
An Offside Romance
This started out as a vague mini-ficlet on the Fluff-thread, and grew! Happy –belated- Valentine’s Day to all Quillers, and my beta Wombat!
This story is dedicated to lovely Dogstar, who read this story 87 times in one night, and still found something nice to say about it. You’re amazing.
"Mols, want to play Gobstones with me?"
"Go away, Fabian. And stop calling me Mols."
"But you promised!"
"Fabian, I’m warning you. Leave. Me. Alone."
"Do you want me to tell Mum who smashed the dining room window?"
Sunshine was pouring through the French windows of her room, as Molly Prewett exasperatedly watched her nine-year-old brother Fabian disappear out of her room. With a frustrated little sigh, she turned back to her mirror.
"Can’t you do something about that hair, girl?" Her mirror trilled. "Gracious, you look like you only just rolled out of bed."
"Yes, I know," she growled. She poured another handful of Sleekeazy's into her hands, and tried to flatten the unattractive, uncooperative curl in question. Horrified, she realized she now looked
"…like a dog caught in the rain, what do you think you’re doing? Just try a taming charm and get it over with, honestly!" her mirror exclaimed.
"Yes! That’s it!" She reached for her wand and cast the spell, which immediately achieved the desired effect of sleek sophistication. Molly started fussing around with her make-up, and was halfway through smearing extra-sparkly Magical Moisturizer (strawberry-flavored) upon her décolleté, when she realized what she was doing. Calm down, she reminded herself. It’s only that stupid Arthur Weasley, and you’re only going because you couldn’t think of an excuse not to quickly enough. But this wasn’t completely true. However much Arthur Weasley, with his disregard for rules, his untidy red hair and dirt all over his nose, and that decidedly strange fascination with Muggles irked her- whenever he smiled, that did something to her. It was absolutely maddening. For the umpteenth time, she picked up the letter that had arrived at the Prewett’s cottage a week ago.
I hope you’re not busy on Wednesday, because I am planning on taking you to a one-in-a-lifetime sort of event. Please let me know if you’re going to come as soon as possible.
See you on Wednesday, I hope.
PS. If you come, you should wear Muggle clothes.
This was absolutely infuriating. Not a word of how much he would enjoy her company, or what she would like to do, no. He had simply gone ahead and made plans, without, it seemed, caring that she may be disinclined to spend the day with a gangly, uncombed, over-freckled toerag…who, unfortunately, was also a prefect, always perfectly civil to her, and had told her several times he liked her new dress-robes.
She shook her head violently, quickly looking over all the other, perfectly friendly invitations from boys all over Hogwarts. Molly didn’t mean to be disgustingly boastful, but there was absolutely no point denying it: she was extremely popular with the male population of Hogwarts. Edgar Bones had sent her a bouquet of never-dying flowers, wanting to take her out dancing. Sibley Podmore had already mailer her twice with poems copied, in a neat hand, from his Muggle Studies textbook. Wynne Hopkirk had promised to take her to The Hob Goblin’s summer concert in Diagon Alley. They were all very nice, respectable boys, who trying their utmost to get Molly to spend a day (and hopefully more) out with them. Boys from old, respectable families that didn’t show up with a new freckled, red-haired brother in twenty-second-hand robes every single year, mind you. Arthur Weasley was making both the least effort, and the worst impression, and yet… The doorbell rang. Cursing, Molly, threw on a pair of earrings, and flew down the stairs. She gasped.
There was Arthur, chatting calmly to her Mum, charming smile flashing like an ad for Tootsie’s Terrific Teeth-Brightening Tonic. His face was clean, his hair looked washed and combed. He was wearing a pair of nice, albeit slightly threadbare blue trousers, and a short sleeved white shirt with a blue tie that made his eyes twinkle. He straightened up when he saw her, and, if possible, his smile widened. Molly realized just how tall he was all of a sudden. She wondered if he could see the rest of the Magical Moisterizer, and hastily folded her arms around her chest. But maybe that seemed too abrasive? She uncrossed them again, all the while not taking her eyes off his shockingly blue ones. "Molly! Hello! You, erm, look nice."
Molly felt her heart to a most vexing little flip. "Thanks. I hope this is Muggle enough?" She made a little twirl to show off the floral skirt and pretty pink blouse, and could have kicked herself. What was she doing?
Arthur nodded. Molly couldn’t help noting how, well, handsome, he looked in the Muggle attire, but she wasn’t about to tell him that. "Well," he cleared his throat. She wondered if he was nervous. "Shall we get going, then?"
"Yes," Molly made a point of emphasizing her perfectly controlled her voice was. She wasn’t nervous in the slightest. After all, she just wanted this ill-fated date to be over as quickly as possible.
Arthur turned to her mother. "We’ll, um, be taking the Floo Network to the Leaky Cauldron, if that’s alright, Mrs. Prewett?"
Molly’s mother positively beamed at him. "Of course, dear. Go ahead, the fireplace is just here…" Over his head, she gave her the thumbs up. Molly blushed, hating every pore of her face for it.
The were about to step into the fire when Molly realized she didn’t even know what precisely awaited her. She wondered if he was taking her to Diagon Alley, a nice lunch on that posh new roof-top restaurant, maybe. "So, Arthur," she smiled at him, mentally deciding this day may not be a complete waste of time after all, "where exactly will you be taking me?"
"Oh, that’s right, I forgot. Well, Molly, I have tickets for a Muggle football match! Isn’t that amazing? Molly?"
She was struck dumb, staring at him. He wasn’t serious. He had to be pulling her leg, this wasn’t…but of course it was. This was Arthur Weasley, after all. She had known. From the moment she had agreed to this stupid date, she had known it was a bad idea. But agreeing was her fault. She couldn’t blame Arthur for her own short-sightedness. But she wasn’t going to be all nice and charming, either. She was unhappy, and he should know it.
"Molly, why aren’t you saying anything?" Arthur’s ears were turning red…the clash with his hair was remarkable. Remarkably ridiculous. And shut up, brain, it’s not endearing. "I…I thought it was a good idea. I’ve always wanted to go to a football match and, well, I thought you might like it, I mean…I know it’s a bit, erm, unusual, but…erm…Molly?"
She was watching him meander with a detached sort of pleasure, but then her heart caught up with her. He really had tried to do something extraordinary, after all. "Oh, it’s fine," she snapped. "Let’s go."
I don’t believe this. I don’t believe this. Fuming, Molly stubbornly sat on a small plastic chair surrounded by screaming, stinking Muggles, while Arthur was excitedly bobbing up and down next to her.
"Isn’t this just fascinating? I’ve never seen anything like it!" He exclaimed delightedly. "And there’s just one ball! Fa-sci-na-ting!"
What’s fascinating is that I’m still here, Molly mentally snapped. This date was every bit the fiasco she had expected it to be. She was cold, her hair-taming charm was wearing off, the Muggles were smelly, and she hadn’t said a single word to Arthur since the match had started. While this was by choice, it was starting to aggravate her. They were supposed to be on a date, after all. Shouldn’t he at least "Who are you supporting?" She yelled up at Arthur, who didn’t react until she kicked him into the shins perhaps a little too forcefully.
"The blue ones!"
He shrugged at her. "Everyone else is…look." He was quite right, most of the stadium was dressed in bright blue.
"Well, I’m supporting the red ones." She announced all of a sudden, getting to her feet in order to actually see some of the match. As far as she could see, twenty players were running after a tiny white blob she assumed was the ball. While they all looked quite fit, the whole thing seemed to lack any sort of tactic or plan.
"Why are you supporting red? They’re"-he checked his book Football For Dummies, from which he had been reading aloud the entire tube ride, and the half-hour of waiting for the match to begin. Molly had never known a little yellow book could induce this kind of anger until today. She wondered if books could feel the Cruciatus curse. "from Liverpool. I didn’t know you liked Liverpool! Have you ever been there?"
Molly counted to ten…twenty…thirty…and smiled up at him with every effort at nicety she could muster. "No. But red’s my favorite color, you see…" She let her voice trail away, looking significantly at the shock of Liverpool-red hair on his head. If she was already stuck at this completely pointless match, she ought to make the best of it. He did have a very cute bum, after all. But he just stared at her confusedly. "Never mind," she said, quickly, willing herself to not roll her eyes, sigh, or run away from this doltish, obtuse prat as quickly as she could. "Hey, is that bloke about to score?"
"Where?!" Arthur jumped up and enthusiastically joined in the chorus of claps and cheers coming from the blue supporters around them. Molly got up too, watching a lone blue figure kick the white blob, passing it smoothly to another player, who transferred it into the net. "SCORE!" Arthur yelled happily.
It was only then that Molly noticed everyone else had stopped cheering and was staring at them both. Down on the lawn, the referee had blown his whistle; and the scoreboard still announced the score as nil-nil. She was utterly confused –she had thought the point of football was simply to get the ball into the goal- Arthur, on the other hand, was in a frenzy. "I understand! Oh, this is wonderful. D’you know what that was, Molly? D’you know? Admit it, this is better than Quidditch foul number 87, isn’t it? That was a classic Offside situation!"
"Yes! Marvelous, simply marvelous…" he flipped through Football For Dummies again, and read aloud: "A player is in an offside position if he is nearer to his opponents' goal line than both the ball and the second last opponent. Stunning, isn’t it?!"
Molly had had enough. "That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard- the second to last opponent?! It’s pathetic. And this, Arthur Weasley, is the stupidest date I’ve ever been on! You take me to a huge stadium full of drunk, bawling, reeking, idiotic Muggles watching twenty-two grown men chase after a single ball, and expect me to enjoy myself?! You write to me without a compliment, without even implying you might enjoy my company, and expect me to be gracious. You call this date unusual?! I call it a complete and utter waste of my time. You are the most insensitive, the most unromantic, the most…"
He was staring at the ground, looking genuinely sorry, but still grinning that maddening smile. He caught her looking at her, slowly raised his head and broadened his smile.
Oh, sod it, Molly thought, and she lightly placed her hands around his neck, stood on tip-toes, and kissed him. He seemed surprised, though not unpleasantly so, and for a second, Molly forgot she had a body that was not connected to her nose, lips and tongue. She had her eyes closed, but she could feel his smile on her, and she drank it in, making it her own.
Suddenly, the crowd around then erupted in angry-sounding groans and shouts. The two broke apart, and Molly’s eyes found the scoreboard, which now read: FC Chelsea O- FC Liverpool 1.
"Red team scores," Arthur, whose gaze had followed hers, said in wonder.
"Yes," Molly smiled, slipping her hand in his, and suddenly finding surrounding jeers of angry, beer-filled Muggle men rather endearing, "red team scores."