The Sugar Quill
Author: Ara Kane (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Molly Prewett and the Heart of the Wayward Wizard  Chapter: Chapter One - Looking Into Your Magic Mirror; or, A Spotted Elephant
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Chapter One — Looking Into Your Magic Mirror; or, A Spotted Elephant in a Fright Wig

Disclaimer: Molly Prewett, Great-Auntie Muriel, Uncle Bilius, Arthur Weasley and Hogwarts belong to JK Rowling. Dame Francesca belongs to A.L. de Sauveterre. Lurch and the Addams Family belong to Charles Addams and the Dread Pirate Roberts (mentioned in the previous chapter) to S. Morgenstern. If you do not recognize the impression Alan tries to do in this chapter, it’s supposed to be Cassius Clay, a.k.a. Muhammad Ali.

 

Author’s Notes: Thanks to Lady Narcissa for beta-reading and to KateHC2 and Verin for the reviews!

 

 

Chapter One — Looking Into Your Magic Mirror; or, A Spotted Elephant in a Fright Wig

 

Molly had no idea how she smuggled the book out of Hogsmeade, into Hogwarts and all the way to the sixth-year Gryffindor girls’ dormitory, all without Clare or Ginger seeing it, but she managed to do so. She thought she was being ridiculous, acting as though she had bought one of N. Ormous Wandwielder’s lurid romances instead of a perfectly innocent book on winning a wizard’s heart, but she also feared how her friends would react if they found out she was reading something so pathetic.

She waited until well after lights-out to crack open her new book. After listening hard for any sign of movement from the other girls in the dormitory, Molly produced her wand and whispered, “Lumos.” Green light filled the small space defined by her bed hangings and she reached under her pillow, where she had hidden Dame Francesca.

Someone tossed about and Molly froze, holding her breath. If anyone asks, I’ll say that I’m on my way to the loo. But no one did, so she pulled the book all the way out from under her pillow.

It was late at night, but Dame Francesca was still fully dressed and made-up, smiling brilliantly, in her photo on the back of the book.

According to the paragraph underneath the photo, Dame Francesca Nadaworth was an emerging authority on beauty and glamour, with her own regular column in Witch Weekly. It also said that she had been married eight times, so she definitely knew how to “catch a man.” But not keep him, Molly thought, sniggering silently.

The photo of Dame Francesca scowled up at her, as if it knew what she was thinking. Molly stuck her tongue out at it, turned the book over, and opened it to Chapter One.

* * *

Imagine that you are looking into a magic mirror. Observe how you look, behave and interact with others.

Molly was the last to awaken in her dormitory the next morning. Once she realized that she’d slept halfway through breakfast on a Monday, she bounded out of bed and hustled into her school robes. “You look very nice, dear,” the dormitory mirror said in a bored voice as Molly stuffed her feet into her shoes and attempted to put her hair into some semblance of order.

Very nice, my Great-Auntie Muriel! she thought, frowning critically at her reflection. Her knee socks made her knees look fat, her pleated skirt made her behind look big, and her jumper seemed to stretch grossly over her chest and midsection! Thank Circe for school robes that cover a multitude of sins!

Ginger and Clare were already well into their breakfasts when Molly dropped breathlessly into her seat at the Gryffindor table. “I thought you were never going to get up,” Ginger remarked as a plate materialized before the latecomer.

“I overslept.” Molly helped herself to bacon, eggs and beans on toast. “What have you got there, Clare?” she asked in an effort to draw attention away from herself.

Her cousin looked up from the sheet of parchment in her hand. “Oh, it’s an owl from Dad,” she answered with a smile that seemed to light up the Great Hall.

“Really? And how is Uncle Bilius these days?”

“Just fine. He says he’s watching his diet like he promised, and remembers to take his foxglove tonic every morning. I’m so glad; I was afraid he would forget without me to remind him.” Clare took a sip of pumpkin juice and resumed reading.

Molly watched the blonde girl read her letter. The morning sun bathed her hair and perfect complexion in gold, highlighting her beauty. A glance at Clare’s plate showed that she probably hadn’t eaten more than a piece or two of toast that morning. She, on the other hand… Molly made a sound of disgust and pushed away her half-eaten breakfast. “I’m not hungry anymore,” she said as her plate hit Ginger’s with a loud chink.

The other girl jumped, startled when their plates collided. She took one look at her friend and rolled her eyes. “Don’t tell me you’re feeling ugly again.”

“I am not ‘feeling ugly.’ I know I’m—”

“You are not!”

Their discussion diverted Clare’s attention from her letter. “What’s wrong, Molly?” she asked.

“According to her, everything,” Ginger answered dryly. “Molly, you are not ugly.”

The redheaded girl rested her chin on a plump fist. “You’re just saying that because you’re my friend.”

“I am not. There are loads of things about you that are beautiful. Your hair, for one.”

“It’s red,” Molly retorted, grimacing at the wild red waves that were barely restrained by her black headband.

“That’s what’s so nice about it, in my opinion. And how about your skin? I thought that those silly witches’ magazines you keep reading say that pale skin is ‘in’ nowadays.”

“I have freckles.”

“I think your freckles are sweet,” Clare told her cousin.

“They would be if there weren’t so many of them.”

“Well, how about your eyes?” the blonde girl asked, laying down her trump card. She knew that Molly wouldn’t be able to come up with a reply to that.

Sure enough, Molly fell silent at the mention of her eyes. The only feature she and Clare had in common were their warm, sherry-brown eyes and Molly considered them her one true beauty. But no one looks at eyes any more, she thought morosely. When people looked at her, they didn’t see a girl with beautiful brown eyes. When people looked at her, they saw a spotted elephant in a fright wig.

“See?” Ginger concluded briskly. “If there’s at least one thing you like about yourself, there’s hope for you yet. You are not ugly.”

“All right, I may not be ugly,” Molly agreed in a gloomy voice, “but I’m fat.”

“You are not fat, either. Madam Sharp’s told you time and time again that you’re a perfectly healthy girl who just happens to be carrying a little extra weight.”

“A little extra weight is not necessarily fat,” Clare said wisely.

“Besides, curves are good,” Ginger added. “Fellows like curves on a girl.”

“How do you know?” Molly challenged her. “Are you a bloke?”

“No, but it’s easy enough to ask one.” She turned to a couple of likely-looking candidates sitting further up the table. “Oi! Arthur!”

The redheaded girl’s eyes widened. “No! Not Arthur Weasley!” she hissed desperately, but it was too late.

“Do blokes like girls with curves?” Ginger asked Arthur. “Like the kind Molly’s got, for instance?” she added, causing Molly to cringe inwardly. Her friend had the subtlety of a rampaging Erumpent.

Arthur’s blue eyes goggled behind his horn-rimmed spectacles. “Miss Molly Melinda Prewett has curves? ...Oh, yes, of course she has curves!” he corrected himself with a grin that told Molly he was up to no good. “Molly’s got some very nice curves, but it’s her uppercut you really need to look out for!”

Alan Jackson thumped the redheaded boy’s shoulder. “Those aren’t curves, you ninny. They’re called hooks.” And then he started punching the air and proclaiming in a strange voice that he was “the greatest.”

Molly turned and gave Ginger a baleful look as Arthur collapsed into laughter. “We’ll ask someone else,” Ginger said.

* * *

“Oi, Molly, why were you asking whether I liked girls with curves?” Arthur asked as he caught up with her in the corridor leading to the Muggle Studies classroom.

Molly clutched her books tighter to her chest and quickened her step in the hopes of leaving him behind, but his long legs made it easy for him to keep pace with her. “I wasn’t doing the asking,” she told him, “Ginger was. And she wasn’t asking what you liked,” she added. “She wanted to know what fellows in general liked. She thought you were normal enough to give her a good answer, even though I told her otherwise.”

“Well, why was she asking whether we fellows liked girls with curves?”

“Never you mind!”

Arthur, of course, refused to let things be. “Come on, Molly,” he coaxed, “if Ginger fancies someone, you can tell me. I can keep it a secret. Half the girls in Gryffindor House have told me that they’re mad about Alan and I haven’t told him.”

“She doesn’t fancy anyone. And Alan thinks all the girls are in love with him anyway, so it doesn’t matter if you haven’t told him about any of those girls who fancy him.”

“Do you fancy him?”

Molly’s cheeks flamed and she wished that she had lied about Ginger fancying someone. It would have shifted the focus from the fact that she, Molly, fancied someone, even if that someone was not Alan. “No! And stop pressing me about this, Arthur Weasley, because I’m not—eek!

“Oof!” a male voice grunted.

Distracted by Arthur, Molly had not noticed that she was about to collide with someone until it was too late and a heap of robes, books and parchments lay at her feet. To her further mortification, she discovered that the person that she had knocked down was none other than Geoffrey Blaine.

She dropped her own books and rushed to his aid. “Oh, my, Geoffrey, are you—are you all right?”

“I’m fine,” he replied shortly, trying to get up.

Unfortunately for Molly, a few of his friends were on hand to help him up and dust off his robes, so she didn’t get to touch him. She moved to gather his things instead. “I’m so sorry,” she babbled, scooping up books and rolls of parchment. “This is my fault; I was being so clumsy, not looking where I was going…”

“That was quite a spill, mate,” Arthur remarked as he stood uselessly by. “All right there?”

“I’ll live,” Geoffrey answered.

Molly snatched the last book away from one of Geoffrey’s friends and proffered the stack she had gathered. “I think this is all of them,” she told him. “I’m so sorry, Geoffrey—”

He waved off her apology and took his things from her. “It’s all right,” he said, and turned to address his friends. “Come on; we’d best be getting to class.”

Molly watched Geoffrey and his friends continue down the hall with a heavy heart. Not only had he not looked at her during their entire conversation (the first they’d ever had), he had sounded annoyed with her, too. Congratulations on making such a lovely first impression, Molly Prewett!

Arthur, on the other hand, was jubilant. “That was bloody brilliant, Molly!” he chortled. “I saw everything — you were walking, he was walking; he could have knocked you down, but you stood your ground and he bounced right off you!”

She glared at him. “It’s not funny! He could have been seriously hurt!”

“Well, if he had, then you would have done Gryffindor House a great service. Geoffrey Blaine plays Chaser for Slytherin, you know, and Gryffindor has a match against them next. If he had sprained his wrist or something, he wouldn’t have been able to play!”

“A human life could have been at stake and all you can think about is Quidditch?”

“If I can arrange for you to run into him again, could you hit him harder?”

“Braaaaughhhh!” Molly hauled off and smacked her tormentor in the ribs with her Potions book before stomping off down the corridor. “Don’t you ever speak to me again, Arthur Weasley!”

* * *

On a normal day, Molly enjoyed Muggle Studies. Professor Trombone, who had begun teaching the class that term, was young, good-looking and much more up-to-date with the Muggle world than his predecessor had been. However, this was not a normal day. Instead of paying attention to the discussion, Molly was spending the time reliving her encounter with Geoffrey in excruciating detail.

As Alan Jackson taught everyone the lyrics to a song about the Addams Family, Molly sighed and tortured herself with memories of the disinterested, even annoyed, expression on Geoffrey’s face. He was ever so handsome when he smiled, she thought gloomily. He was never going to smile at her now, not after what had happened.

Suddenly, something pale scuttled over her foot and began crawling up her robes. She gasped, stifling a scream, and then saw that it was a bug made of folded-up parchment. Her name was scrawled on its back. A note.

By now, everyone else in the class was trying to sing the Addams Family song. Under cover of the noise, Molly cast a discreet Finite Incantatem and the enchanted note lay still.

When she unfolded the parchment, she found that a cartoon had been drawn upon it. Two stick figures — one a girl, judging from the skirt, high-heeled shoes, and crazy zigzags of hair that had been added to it — stood triumphantly over a third figure that was lying on the ground, apparently in pain. The figure standing next to the girl sported eyeglasses and a mop of hair. A speech balloon issuing from its widely smiling mouth proclaimed, “Molly Prewett is bloody brilliant!”

Molly chanced a glance to her left. Arthur grinned at her from several seats away, looking very much like the stick figure that proclaimed her as bloody brilliant. She groaned.

She groaned loudly enough for others in the class to hear her. “No, no, Molly, that’s not what Lurch sounds like at all,” Alan told her. “He sounds more like this…” And he proceeded to make a noise that sounded like a Graphorn’s mating call.

Professor Trombone and the rest of the class laughed while Molly managed a weak smile. She did not like being singled out for attention, but she supposed it was better for them to laugh at her for a mistake she did not really make rather than be called on the carpet for passing notes in class.

* * *

Molly rose gratefully when Professor Trombone dismissed them for the day. Transfiguration was supposed to be their next class, but Professor Dumbledore had been called away so the sixth-year Gryffindors would be having a break instead.

On a normal day, she would have been disappointed; she enjoyed Transfiguration and Dumbledore was her favorite professor and Head of House, besides. Today, Molly was grateful for the free time. Things were not going too well thus far: she had overslept, been annoyed by Arthur Weasley, made the worst possible first impression on Geoffrey Blaine and been annoyed by Arthur again, and it was barely time for lunch.

“I’ve got to go back to the dormitory,” Ginger told her as the brown-haired girl shoved spellbooks into her bag. “Want to come with me?”

“No, thank you,” Molly answered, putting her things away more slowly. “I’ve got some reading to do.” She hadn’t really meant it, but once the words were out of her mouth she decided that perhaps some quiet time in the library would do her good.

“All right. I’ll see you in Charms, then.”

As Ginger rushed off, Molly finished packing up and decided that unless she fell asleep, she would probably use her library time to finish the essay on human transfiguration that Professor Dumbledore had assigned before his departure. That sounded like a nice, productive thing to do, she thought; just the thing to keep the morning from going to the Crups.

Unfortunately her resolution to be productive suffered a serious blow when Arthur waylaid her outside the Muggle Studies classroom. He was still grinning. Apparently, his morning was far from going to the Crups. “What did you think?” he asked.

“Of what?” Molly snapped.

“Of the drawing, of course!” As he spoke, a lock of his hair flopped into one eye.

She scowled at the errant lock of hair. It was so long and untidy and that color — nothing at all like Geoffrey Blaine’s perfectly cut golden hair. “I didn’t think it was very funny.”

“Why not? I thought it was brilliant.”

He would! Molly fumed silently. “Well, I thought it was mean of you to laugh at someone meeting an accident that way.”

“It wasn’t a serious accident! And besides, Blaine’s a big boy. He can take care of himself.”

“That doesn’t make it right for you to laugh at him!”

Arthur gave her a puzzled look. “Why are you so upset about this? It’s just Geoffrey Blaine. You’ve never spoken to the bloke — in fact, you hardly know him. And in case you haven’t noticed, he’s a Slytherin!”

She pressed her lips together tightly. She had one very good reason to be upset about bumping into Geoffrey, but she wasn’t going to share it with Arthur Weasley, of all people. Instead of saying anything, Molly hit him again with her Potions book and took off down the corridor.

* * *

In the library, Molly attacked her Transfiguration assignment with gusto. She worked as though her very life depended upon it, as though every word she wrote was a blow against Arthur Weasley, the bane of her existence. Take that! she thought as she scribbled line after line of her essay. And that!

It wasn’t until the free period was almost over that her anger burned itself out and guilt began to seep in. Arthur had been annoying, that was true, but he had also tried to cheer her up in his own way. He might have stopped if she had said something calm and dignified instead of hitting him with her book.

And to think, Molly thought morosely, Dame Francesca had instructed her to observe how she interacted with others. She did not like what she had seen during that episode with Arthur, and she was certain that Dame Francesca would not have liked it, either.

If you could say something to yourself through the magic mirror, what would it be?

Molly Prewett, you have a lot of work to do.

//
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