Title: Secrets

Summary: It was a secret that brought them together.

Rating: K+

Pairings: The beginnings of Molly/Arthur

Challenges:

HPFC

Criminal Minds Character Category Competition - Competition: Jennifer Jaraeu - "Write about a character keeping a secret."

QLFC Training Camp

Seeker: Banchory Bangers - Finals (Weasleys) - "Write a fic about Molly and Arthur."

The Golden Snitch

Centaurus, Aurora - Through the Universe Challenge - "11. Apparent Magnitude - (object) wand."

Lumos!

Ravenclaw House - Emotional Range of a Teaspoon Challenge - "Kind."

Extra Notes: Enjoy!

Secrets

Footsteps.

Molly's eyes flashed open and she stared up into the blackness of the empty Common Room. Her neck ached; she had fallen asleep in one of the armchairs while studying for an upcoming Transfiguration test, and she was stiff all over.

She was about to doze back off when she heard those noises again- a series of rustling sounds, followed by more footsteps, as if someone was doing their best to be silent but failing miserably.

She didn't move from her spot in the armchair and instead squinted through the shadows, listening intently.

Her eyes barely made out the silhouette of a small, scrawny figure tiptoeing towards the portrait hole to exit the room.

Molly frowned and sat up, darkness cloaking her, and continued to watch as the portrait swung open and the person slid out into the Hogwarts corridors.

For a moment, she was torn; she knew she should probably go back to sleep. She had class in the morning, and if she didn't get enough rest, she would be groggy and glassy-eyed all day.

On the other hand…

She really, really wanted to know why somebody was sneaking around the castle in the dead of night.

And if she didn't hurry up, she would lose them.

The moment the portrait had shut once more, Molly jumped to her feet and hurried to the exit. The portrait of the Fat Lady obediently opened yet again, grumbling at being disturbed.

Molly stepped into the hallway just in time to see the edge of a school robe disappear behind the corner up ahead.

She raced down the corridor, her own robes flying behind her, her crimson curls bouncing against her shoulders. The only light came from the slivers of moonbeams that poured through the windows lining the stone walls, illuminating the turns and curves of the hallway.

She turned the corner, entering another long corridor, spying the edge of flowing fabric as the figure dashed down a flight of steps.

Molly's eyes narrowed.

Whoever it was- they were heading to the Slytherin dorms.

Picking up her speed, Molly followed down the narrow, twisting steps.

As she descended, the shadows seemed to grow darker, the air colder. She hated this wing of the school- it was where she was forced to pass through for her Potions lessons, and the trip down was never enjoyable.

Soon, it got so black Molly couldn't see her own hand in front of her face.

She pulled her wand out of her robe pocket.

"Lumos," she whispered, and-

- and Molly screamed in shock as the stairwell filled with light and she came face-to-face with another person.

The other person shouted as well, throwing up his arms to shield his face from the sudden brightness.

Molly recognized the shock of red hair that peeked up from beneath his hands.

"Arthur… Weasley?" she asked slowly, disbelieving.

Gingerly, her fellow Gryffindor lowered his arms. His face was paler than usual, freckles standing out starkly on his cheeks.

"M- Molly," he stammered. "I- er- hello."

Molly blinked. "What are you doing down here?"

"What are you doing down here?" Arthur countered triumphantly.

"I- I was following you!" Molly exclaimed.

There was a moment of tense, uncomfortable silence.

Then Molly noticed the small package Arthur cradled in his hands.

"What's that?" she demanded.

"Nothing!" Arthur replied hastily, trying in vain to hide the package behind his back. "It's nothing."

Molly crossed her arms, giving him a look.

He sighed, holding out the small cardboard box. "Fine. Look inside."

Carefully, Molly leaned forward and peeled back the top flaps.

Inside was an assortment of what Molly knew to be Muggle pens; she had seen them before in a shop in Diagon Alley. She had even used one once, and was delighted in the way the ink flowed smoothly over the paper.

"They're pens," Arthur began to explain, "like quills, except for Muggles-"

"I know what they are," Molly interrupted, subtly noticing the impressed look Arthur gave her. "Why do you have them, though?"

Arthur's cheeks reddened. "I… I…"

She fixed him with another pointed look.

"I stole them," Arthur mumbled, so quietly she almost missed it.

Molly's jaw dropped. "Stole them? From whom?"

Arthur whispered something she didn't catch.

"What was that?"

"Lucius Malfoy," Arthur muttered. "I took them from Lucius Malfoy."

Molly blinked. Stared.

Blinked again.

"How?" she breathed, mostly appalled… but also partly in awe despite herself.

Arthur glanced down at the bundle in his hands miserably. "I've always loved Muggle items- they're just so interesting! And Malfoy was bragging to his friends about how he stole this from some- some Mudblood-" he cringed at the word before continuing "- and I figured it wouldn't hurt to just take a peek when he put it down, and then… and then…"

Molly nodded once, understanding.

Arthur hung his head. "I know I'm a terrible person."

"You're not," Molly assured him, but Arthur didn't seem to believe her.

"I need to put the pens back," he said urgently, "before Malfoy realizes they're gone. I don't want- I don't want anybody to know."

Molly frowned at him, and Arthur tensed, as if preparing himself for the worst.

"Can I help?" Molly asked finally. "I've always wanted to see the inside of the Slytherin Common Room."

Arthur's shoulders relaxed, a hesitant smile playing across his face. "Really?"

Molly grinned up at him. "Sure. It can be our secret."