A/N: By popular demand, here is the conversation between Archie and Molly in Chapter 19 of Falling For You. I also have a chapter written detailing a few conversations between Hugo and Jane that I'll probably post soon as well. Hope you enjoy! I'd love to hear what you think.
His chest was tightening with nerves and anticipation as he followed Molly up the stairs. Archie hadn't been prepared for this. He assumed that she'd ignore him after what had happened two days before Christmas.
They reached the floor above the pub and Molly surprised him by pulling out a key and opening the first door they came to.
"I told Hannah I needed some space, and she was kind enough to oblige," Molly explained. He followed her into the room, closing the door behind him and trying not to focus on the fact that he was in a bedroom with his ex girlfriend who he was still very much in love with.
"Are you alright with this?" she asked nervously, wringing her hands as she stood in the middle of the room. Archie allowed himself to fully take her in. She was dressed simply in a deep blue jumper and jeans that were so dark blue they were almost black. Her heeled boots dressed it up a bit. When they'd been in school, she'd worn her hair to her shoulders, and she'd kept it that way for as long as they were together. She'd let it grow the last few years, and her red waves hung midway down her back beautifully.
"Am I alright with what?" he managed to ask, leaning against the door for support.
"Depends on what about."
He wasn't sure why he was being difficult. The obvious answer was yes, of course he was more than happy to talk to her. Although, happy might be a bit of a stretch.
"I just haven't been able to stop thinking about everything that happened," she said patiently. "I thought it might be nice to get some closure."
He gulped nervously, knowing full well what this conversation would have to entail.
"Okay, I think I can do that."
She nodded and glanced around the room before deciding to remain standing where she was, and Archie did the same.
"What happened?" she asked in a straightforward manner, and Archie let out a melancholy chuckle.
"You'll have to be more specific."
"Before we broke up," she clarified, her vulnerability starting to show through in the way her voice shook slightly. "Things had been going really well, at least I thought they had. But then you started acting strange and making excuses for things and just distancing yourself in general. Did I do something? Did you just stop-?"
She stopped before she finished the question and he tried not to think about the way her voice almost cracked with pain as she couldn't bring herself to ask it. She took a calming breath and crossed her arms, assuming a defiant expression.
"I'm sure it is. Explain anyway."
He took a deep breath, releasing it slowly as his eyes searched hers, and then he let everything he'd been holding in for the last four years come pouring out.
"First thing you need to understand, is that my dad is a jackass."
Molly's brow arched in surprise and confusion.
"It's important that you understand that I know that," Archie continued. "However, my knowing that doesn't mean I stopped seeking his approval."
"He disapproved of me?" she asked incredulously.
"No," Archie assured her. "The opposite, in fact. He's always been about success and accomplishments and doing anything to get ahead. He was absolutely thrilled when I brought home a Weasley."
Something like clarity appeared in her eyes, and her guarded stance relaxed slightly.
"Imagine how much more thrilled he was when he learned who your father is," he said with obvious disdain. "As soon as I'd introduced you, it became customary for him to ask me about my connection with your dad, and whether or not it could be used to the advantage of the foundation. I managed to keep him at bay for awhile, but then he started talking marriage."
Molly inhaled sharply, her eyes almost shining with intensity as she hung on his every word.
"We were nineteen," Archie said in a pleading tone. "I wasn't ready for that and I knew you weren't either, but he kept pestering me about it. 'Lock her down, Archibald. It's too good of a connection to not secure as soon as possible.' Fucking prick. I never wanted to be forced into something like that and I didn't want to force you into it either."
"That's when we stopped having dinner with him. And when you stopped inviting me to foundation functions," she said in realization. He nodded.
"I did what I could to keep you away from him, and when that didn't work, I felt like I was left with only one option."
There was silence for a few moments as Archie prepared to own what he knew would be one of the harshest truths.
"I wasn't going to let him get away with controlling your life, so I did everything I could think of to push you away. I started acting suspicious and showing up late and forgetting things. I had to force myself to act like I didn't care; about you, about any of it. All I had to do was wait. I knew it would only be a matter of time until you had enough, no matter how much you-"
Just like she'd been unable to bring herself to say the word, he couldn't either. Tears were now obviously glistening in Molly's eyes, and she sniffed loudly in an effort to keep them at bay.
"Why not just end things yourself?" she asked in a rough voice. "Why force me to do it?"
"I was a coward," he said averting his eyes to the floor, still too cowardly to face her. "I thought that if you left me rather than me leaving you, it would spare you the heartache. It also meant I wouldn't disappoint my father quite as much. At least I hadn't made the choice. Didn't think he'd blame me as much. He did though, of course. Everything's always my bloody fault. Never good enough, never smart enough, never ambitious enough."
He heard her sniffling again, but couldn't bare to look up at the hurt that was most likely etched across her face.
"I didn't want that life for you; constantly being used as a pawn in someone else's game, always treated as slightly less of a human and seen only for your connections. I knew being with me wasn't good for you."
"Don't you think that was my choice?"
He finally looked up at the sound of her strangled voice, and saw streaks down her face from her tears.
"It was. You left, remember? You did make a choice."
"And it was one I never would have made if you had just been honest with me from the beginning," she snapped in irritation.
"Then why did you?" he found himself asking, previously unaware that this very question had been eating away at him for years. "If you didn't want to, why did you leave?"
"Because as painful as it was, staying would have been worse," she said, her eyes full of tears once again. "You did your best to push me away and it worked. I felt like every option other than leaving had been taken from me. What else was I supposed to do?"
He couldn't formulate a response for that, because he knew it was true. He'd left her with no real alternative. As she controlled her tears and stared him down, He sensed her next question before she asked it.
"Why did you let me go?"
Archie closed his eyes, taking a calming breath before looking into her deep green eyes again. When he spoke, his voice shook.
"I knew it was probably what was best for you. Aside from what happened with us, you hated your job and things were tense with your parents. You needed something new and different. And the selfish part of me knew I'd never be able to keep my distance if you'd stayed. I was relieved when you left, because that meant I didn't have to fight every damn day to keep myself away from you."
He knew he was crying now too, but he'd managed to keep his tears from pouring down his face. Taking a deep breath, Archie rubbed at his eyes in an effort to stop the tears, and when he opened them, it was to see Molly had taken a few steps closer and was staring up at him intently.
He wasn't entirely sure what she meant by the question, but he wasn't stupid enough to hope for anything that he wanted it to mean.
"And now I know that everything happened the way it was supposed to."
She nodded, her face lined with disappointment.
"I suppose it did," she murmured, her eyes slightly red from her tears as they searched his. "Imagine if you'd let him talk you into proposing when we were a year out of Hogwarts."
She said it in a joking manner and even managed to crack a slight smile, though he could see the sadness in it. He found himself unable to return it as he took an unintentional step closer to her. Molly looked up at him with questioning eyes, and he could see everything he'd ever wanted with her more clearly than he had when he was nineteen.
"I'm just sorry for the part I had to play in it," he said quietly. "For hurting you."
He was standing closer to her than he had in years, and it was difficult to think about much else as he could feel her warm breath on his face as she breathed deeply. He wanted to tell her that he had wanted to marry her eventually, but the pressure added by his father had tainted the idea. He'd wanted to do it on their terms, not his father's. He wanted to ask what her answer would have been, because her comment made it seem an awful lot like she'd have said yes.
He could feel the tension mounting between them as their eyes bore into each other's. There was so much he wanted to say and do in that moment, but none of it would have been fair to her. Nothing about this felt fair at all.
Taking a deep breath, he looked away from her, resigned to the fact that he not only couldn't have what he wanted, but he had no right to it either. He'd explained as best he could, and maybe it was only going to hurt him more to walk away from her again, but if this helped her to move on, it was worth it. He could do that much for her.
"I hope that helps you find whatever closure you're looking for," he said, meeting her eyes once again. "If you have anymore questions, I'll try and answer them as best I can."
Molly gave a slight nod, her gaze distant as she turned and stared into the fire. Even though her face was tear stained, Archie couldn't help but appreciate her beauty. She'd changed in the years since he'd seen her, more than just the length of her hair. Her features were more defined and her eyes held more depth. It was hard to know exactly what was different, but she looked older, more a woman than the girl she'd been the last time he'd seen her. The last time he'd held her. The last time he'd kissed her. She hadn't grown taller at all, which he was thankful for. He wasn't even a head taller as it was already.
Uncertain what else there was to say, and knowing he needed to get out of there before doing anything rash, he opened the door, but paused before he left.
"I'm so sorry, Molly," he managed to say, and her eyes snapped to him. "I'm sorry for a lot of things, but I'm mostly sorry I hurt you. I never wanted to do that, and I never wanted to see you in pain."
She nodded, a slight but painful smile momentarily gracing her lips, and then he turned and left the room.