A/N: it's late, I know, but this is for Jenny's – SqueakySwings – 20th birthday. Happy birthday, Jen! I hope you like the continued saga of Molly and Salazar. It's going to be in two parts because it was just too long otherwise.

Also huge thank yous to Amy – FollowThisRhythm – and Ela – HollywoodNights – and Lucy – thethymeisright – for giving me encouragement and threats and generally making sure this is a million times better than it would have been if they hadn't been willing to help me with it.

New readers: pleasepleaseplease read you are the solace of impossibility before this. Otherwise you will just be totally and utterly lost.


basilisk love songs
hold on, we're gonna make it if it takes all night
hearts racing like a rocket at the speed of light
- Where We Belong, Thriving Ivory


She's watching a mindless Muggle television programme as she pushes potato salad around her plate, her feet propped up on her coffee table as the city hums and buzzes outside the window of her apartment.

She's in a sort of daydream, the fingers of her left hand tracing the outline of the basilisk tattooed into her right ankle as it twists there, her right hand holding the fork that is currently dividing up potatoes but never actually ferrying them to her mouth.

She's so out of it that she barely hears the knock at the door. It jolts her from her reverie, though, and she abandons her plate on the side after a brief pause and moves into the hallway to answer the door.

"Lucy," she says, surprised to see her twin standing there looking put out. "What do you want?"

"Can I come in?" Lucy replies, pushing past her sister even as she asks. "I need to talk to you."

Molly shuts the door behind her and follows her through to the sitting room, flicking the television off with a wave of her wand and taking a seat in the armchair as Lucy throws herself onto the sofa.

"What's the matter?" Molly inquires, swishing her wand to get her dirty potato salad plate to wash itself up in the kitchen. "I can't imagine you've made the effort to visit me out of purely social reasons."

"Look, Moll, the thing is, we're all worried about you. You haven't been to see any of us for years, apart from if we force you to. We don't push you because of what happened with the Chamber but I need you to snap out of it. I'm sick of having a sister who doesn't do anything to repay the effort I put in."

Molly flinches in an automatic reaction as Lucy mentions the Chamber of Secrets, and her fingers drift up to toy with the little ruby-eyed lion hanging on the gold chain around her neck.

"I don't ask you to put effort in," she points out validly to her sister, but Lucy just fixes her with an unblinking glare that a basilisk would be proud of.

"Seriously, Moll, sort it out," Lucy orders, rising to her feet. "It's bad enough you've taken such a suicidal career path – the least you can do is come see us to reassure us that you're not dead!"

Molly doesn't respond, just sits there mutinously as Lucy crosses the living room and then hesitates in the doorway.

"Please, Molly," she says, and Molly hates to see her sister begging. "Please just give up on him. Whoever he was."

Molly doesn't move. Doesn't even flinch. She just sits there and waits for the front door to slam shut behind her twin.

She doesn't give way to the tears that want to rise, either. She hasn't cried since that last day in the Chamber when she gave up on everything, and she's not about to start now. To distract herself she crosses over to the window and, ignoring the tumultuous, muted roar of London at night, she directs her gaze up to the stars she can't see and sends her customary wish out into the night.

It's not a specifically worded wish, just a spike of longing and loneliness and the desire – the raging, all-consuming need – to see him again.

.:.

The next morning she sits at her desk with music filtering through her speakers and attacks the pile of paperwork next to her computer. Evidence of Muggle technology surrounds her, from the still photographs on the walls to the keyboard her fingers are tap-tap-tapping against.

Words start to drift across the screen in their usual lethargic way.

"Oh, fuck this," she decides eventually, sighing and shoving the papers so hard they burst in a flurry across the floor, scattering in an ill-formed arc.

Rising, she heads into the kitchen and makes herself a strong coffee and pauses to take stock of her life.

She's twenty-four, unmarried, in love with a man who lived over a thousand years ago and whose disappearance is probably the greatest mystery in the wizarding world. She's in love with him and she can't do anything about it. Surrounding herself with Muggle technology, living in a Muggle area, trying to cut out the wizarding side of her life – that isn't working. Not by any means.

Sighing, she hurls her spoon savagely into the sink and gulps her coffee down quickly. Leaving the mug on the side, she heads back into her study and spells the mess of papers back into a proper pile and then levitates them back up onto the desk.

She spends the rest of the day hammering out a report on the disappearance of unicorns from the coastline of Northumbria, the rain a monotonic drumming against the floor-to-ceiling windows in her sitting room.

It's dark out when she finally finishes. She magics her dirty lunch plate into the kitchen to clean itself and starts to prepare some dinner.

A fire suddenly flares up in her never-used fireplace, and Molly jumps about a mile as her grandmother and namesake's head appears in the flames.

"Molly, dear?" Molly Sr. calls, and she crosses the room and kneels at the hearth.

"Hi, Grandma," she says carefully, smoothing her pyjama bottoms down. "Can I help you with anything?"

"Yes," Molly Sr. says firmly, and somehow Molly knows that she's folding her arms – at least figuratively. "I want you to come round to dinner with the rest of the family tonight."

"Tonight?" Molly repeats in shock, and her grandmother smiles in an amused but firm manner that suggests her granddaughter would be extremely dense to decline the invitation.

"Yes," she replies decisively. "I expect you here in one hour exactly."

She disappears then, before Molly has time to make some feeble excuse, and the young woman is left staring at an empty fireplace.

"Fuck," she says to nobody in particular, and then with an exasperated sigh she clambers to her feet and goes to dig out something to wear.

.:.

She apparates to the doorstep of the Burrow one hour and three minutes later, and she's picking despondently at a loose thread on her blue dress when the door is wrenched open and Molly comes face-to-face with her youngest cousin.

"Molly!" Lily exclaims in delight, bounding forward to seize Molly in a hug that is oddly strong for someone of her stature.

"I can't breathe, Lils," Molly gasps out as Lily squeezes her tightly, beaming all the while even as the rest of the family rush through to the hallway in disbelief.

"I don't believe it," Teddy says firmly as he comes up behind Lily, detaching her gently from Molly and wrapping his arms around her waist. "You're not really here. You're just an illusion sent to get all our hopes up."

"Fuck off, Lupin," Molly replies with the hint of a grin teasing her cheeks, trying extremely hard not to be jealous of the way Lily beams as she turns her head up to place a kiss on his jaw. Molly wishes she knew what that sort of casual intimacy is like, where you're not panicking every second you spend with your loved one that you're going to be torn apart any moment.

"Get a move on, Molly, we're waiting for you before we start dinner!" she hears shouted from the back of the mass of heads, and her grin grows as Lily yells, "Stop thinking about your stomach all the time, James!" back.

As much as she wishes to deny it, she's missed the crazy bunch. As Teddy wraps his hand around Lily's and begins to lead her down the hallway, Lily reaches back and takes Molly's hand in her spare one.

"Grandma will be so pleased," she murmurs, squeezing Molly's fingers. Molly smiles and has to turn away from the look of fierce pride and adoration on Teddy's face as he turns his ever-changing eyes onto her cousin.

They arrive in the dining room and instantly Molly is besieged on all sides as cousins rush towards her and she is handed from hug to hug as they all complain about how long it's been since they've seen her and how much they've missed her.

"Seriously," Molly hears right in her ear as James grabs her for a bone-crushing embrace that is only just tighter than his sister's, "hurry up with the hellos. I want to eat."

"James!" Rose exclaims in dismay, smacking her cousin upside the head. "Give the girl a break! She hasn't seen any of us for months."

Molly can't help laughing as James grabs Rose in a headlock, and something inside of her is delighted to see how little everybody has changed since they were small children running around the garden and pulling at each other's hair.

The only one absent is Victoire, and when Molly is finally given a breathing space she comments on this to Roxanne.

Roxanne smiles slightly as she sags onto the sofa next to Molly, sitting just close enough to Molly to let her know that she'll stop her instantly should she try to escape.

"Yeah, well, she didn't deal too well when Teddy dumped her," she replies, and Molly's eyebrows shoot up.

"She's still sore about that? It was, like, six years ago now."

Roxanne shoots her a slightly concerned look. "It was two years ago," she corrects, and then darts a look to where Teddy and Lily are sharing a sofa, his arms around her waist as she giggles and tries to fight him off when he shadows kisses up the side of her neck. "And she has to deal with the reminders all the time."

Molly copies Roxanne and watches the pair curiously. She hasn't been around enough to see how the dynamic of the family has shifted in response to this revelation that everybody except Victoire, Teddy and Lily had seen coming since Lily was a child. Not to her great surprise, there doesn't seem to be any ill-will towards the pair, except from Bill and Fleur.

In fact, even as Molly watches Dominique darts up and seizes Lily out of Teddy's arms, sticking her tongue out at the latter as she drags the former off to referee a chess game between herself and Al.

Roxanne gets up to join in, and Molly sits on the sofa, glass of gillywater in hand, and lets the conversations and family dynamics wash gently over her. There's been a clichéd, melodramatic nagging pain inside her since she watched Salazar fade away for the last time, but being a part of this rabble helps ease the ache and encourages her to forget.

She drains her glass and crosses the room to watch the chess game.

.:.

She finds herself seated in between her Uncle Harry and her cousin Louis for dinner, across from Lily who is so busy flicking bread at Louis that she doesn't even register the glares of disapproval from Aunt Fleur.

"Lily, dear, would you stop zat, s'il-te-plait?" Fleur says eventually, appearing to give up her battle to remain above it when a knob of butter lands firmly above her left breast and Louis dissolves into helpless laughter, the knife he'd been using as a catapult clutched in his left hand.

Lily looks as though she'd like to argue the point, glaring at her aunt so fiercely that Molly sees yet again what it is about her that the Sorting Hat thought worthy of Slytherin. But Lily jumps and stays silent, switching her glare to her father.

Molly darts her eyes sideways and guesses that Harry has just given his daughter a swift kick in the leg. Harry meets her eyes, laughter dancing in his, and winks briefly.

"Don't tell Ginny," he whisper-orders her, shooting a quick look at Lily and smiling more widely as he encounters his daughter's scowl. "She'll cite some Muggle law about physical abuse."

"As she ought!" Lily retorts dramatically, folding her arms and tossing her hair pointedly. "I'm sure Childline would love to hear of the years of abuse I've had to suffer at your hands!"

The table falls very quiet suddenly, and then James hits Lily in the face with an expertly-aimed piece of fish, and the resulting roar of laughter must be loud enough to be heard in China.

Molly laughs with the rest at the look of outrage on Lily's face and Ginny's sharp command to sit down and grow up as Lily lifts her glass of water with the full intent of flinging at her elder brother.

"Dad," Lily whines as she sets her glass down rebelliously, picking up her fork and poking at her food. "Why am I always the one who gets in trouble?"

"Because you're Slytherin," Al shouts at her down the table, and Lily whirls and sticks her tongue out at her brother.

"Well at least I don't have bat ears!" she yells back, and then Roxanne elbows her in the side and tells her to stop shouting in her ear and to pass the pepper. Molly laughs again at them, Harry next to her equally amused, and she feels suddenly at peace with the world.

.:.

The feeling doesn't last long, dispelling soon after she steps back out into the starry night and pulls her wand out of her coat pocket. The house is quiet inside, the younger generation collapsed in sleep, sprawled out over beds and sofas and each other; the adults talking in muted tones over glasses of a Muggle wine Molly's mother had brought along.

"It was lovely to see you tonight," a voice says, startling Molly out of her contemplation of The Burrow. She jumps and looks over to where her grandmother is coming out of the broom shed, her grey hair looking almost blonde in the moonlight.

"It was nice to see you too, Grandma," she replies with an honest smile. "I'd forgotten how crazy this family is."

"It does you good to be reminded every once in a while, doesn't it?" her grandmother asks with a laugh, patting Molly on the arm. "And, listen, if this self-exclusion thing you've been doing is because of a boy – he's not worth it, sweetheart. No man is ever worth leaving your family for."

Molly clenches her fists as that soul-deep weariness, dispelled for those few glorious hours, returns full force, and she feels the weight of it pulling at her like gravity.

"There's no boy, Grandma," she says quietly, shoving her hands deep into her coat pockets. "Not anymore."

"Is that the problem then?" her grandmother presses, ignorant as usual of Molly's desire to just be done with the conversation. "Did you break up? I know it's hard at first, dear, but I promise it'll all work out for –"

"We didn't break up," Molly says, and her voice is a rough, unemotional monotone. "It's far more complicated than that."

And she knows it's rude and that she'll get a lot of stick, but she can feel tears rising and she won'twon'twon't fall prey to them, especially not in front of her grandmother, so she whips out her wand and within two seconds she's feeling her way into blackness and out onto the doorstep of her flat.

She unlocks the door with hands as determinedly steady as ice, the tears definitely not rising, and she's halfway across her sitting room with the express intent of just collapsing into bed when there comes a knock at the door.

Molly yanks her coat off savagely and, with angry mutters, returns to the door and tugs it open.

"Look, Lucy, I – " she cuts herself off and feels every bone in her body sagging in disbelief. "No fucking way."

She watches the floor rush up to meet her with astonishing detachment, and then it's black and she doesn't feel the strong arms catching her or see the green eyes that caress every line of her body as the man on the doorstep hoists her up into his arms and bears her through to her bed.

"Hello again," Salazar says quietly to her sleeping form, and lies her down gently on top of her duvet.

.:.

Molly blinks herself awake the next morning, registering first the sunlight spilling into her eyes through the unclosed curtains, and second the arms wrapped around her waist and the broad chest her face is pressed against.

She freezes – she had been so certain it was a dream – and very delicately she tilts her head back and gazes up at the sleeping face of the man she thought she'd never see again.

She has a million questions running through her head as she reaches up and gently traces his jawline, the creases at the corners of his closed eyes, the six-o'clock stubble just beginning to darken his cheeks; but she can't form any of them for shock and for love of him.

His eyes open slowly, and she watches cautiously as his eyelids flutter, his gaze focusing on her almost immediately.

"Good morning," he says pleasantly, and if he didn't have his arms wrapped around her waist and his legs tangled in hers he'd be the very picture of a distant acquaintance. "Did you sleep well?"

Now he's awake and Molly has the chance to start asking him everything on her mind she finds herself completely and utterly unable, and instead she just turns her face back into his chest and – like some pathetic schoolgirl– gives way to the tears she's been holding back for six years.

He holds her while she cries, rubbing soothing circles on her back and murmuring nothings into her hair while his fingers fist in the back of her dress – the subconscious message that he's never letting go, not ever again.

Eventually she manages to persuade herself that she's wasting valuable time with him and she sits up suddenly, his arms tightening reflexively around her. She turns to look down at him, her hair trailing down her back as she places her palms flat on his chest.

"How?" she says finally, and that one word carries the weight of the world.

He smiles slightly up at her, that ohsofamiliar curve of lips that she both knows so well and doesn't know at all, and one of his hands glide up to cover hers, the other lifting to graze gently over the angles of her face, his touch wondering and loving and full of relief.

"A spell," he explains, as though it isn't any big deal. "I hope Godric didn't mind too much that I had to drain the Black Lake."

"You drained the Black Lake?" she repeats disbelievingly, and as he sits up against the headboard it's as natural as oxygen for her to clamber into his lap and snuggle down into his embrace, feeling his arms come around her like they've never been absent.

She feels his smile against the top of her head as she tips her head back onto his shoulder, gazing candidly up at him.

"Yes," he says in response to the question she's almost forgotten she asked, and then there's that wicked grin she's missed so much spreading across his features. "It turns out that there's some baby squid living at the bottom with the merfolk. They were all quite annoyed that the water was gone."

Molly can feel amusement bubbling up and with the surreal feeling that is wrapped around this whole situation she lets out a laugh.

"I can't believe you drained the lake!"

He's suddenly laughing too, and the thrum resonates against her back as his chuckles ghost across her scalp.

"You don't mind, do you?" he inquires, and his voice is suddenly husky and – although she cannot believe it – somewhat uncertain. "If there's someone else… I was so sure…"

"Shut up," she breathes, and then she's twisting around and fastening her mouth onto his with a desperation that belies years of loneliness and resignation; and, at the brush of his lips on hers, soft at first but then hungry and rough, Molly learns to be alive again.

.:.

They barely stir for hours, lying in her bed with their limbs intertwined, sharing skin and sharing time so brightly it's almost painful to see.

"Why did you come?" Molly asks suddenly, playing with his fingers as he twirls strands of her hair, admiring the copper shine that plays along the individual curls.

"Everything just got too much for me back then," he explains quietly, and as she turns up to look at his face there's something full of sadness lurking at the back of his prettyprettyeyes. "I had all these plans for the school, to make it perfect, and Godric didn't like them. He was all for flaws and imperfections and I couldn't bear it. I was already suffering from the loss of you, I couldn't deal with all that too. So I decided to… what's the phrase? Kill two birds with one stone. Yes."

She laughs and shifts herself up the bed so her eyes are level with his, and she reaches out pale fingers to twist in the front of his hair, her gaze steady and adoring as she looks at him.

"Thank you," she whispers, her hand gliding down to brush against his cheek. "That must have been so hard for you to do."

He sighs and wraps an arm about her waist, pulling her flush against him and claiming her in another searing kiss.

"It was worth it," he insists, his palm splayed out between her shoulder blades. "You must know that I would have done anything to be with you again, Molly. Anything."

She smiles and the barest hint of a blush spreads up her neck. She can see an amused grin spreading across his lips so she buries her face in his neck and drapes her leg over his.

"I can't believe this is really happening," she murmurs, her voice muffled, and it sounds like something in his voice is breaking as he replies, "Neither can I."

Eventually Molly's stomach starts rumbling, much to Salazar's amusement, and she rises from the bed and pulls on her pyjamas before heading into the kitchen. He follows, dressed in trousers, one hand lightly resting on the bare skin between her top and her shorts – this message, constantly and subconsciously, that he's here and he's never letting her go again.

"What do you want to eat?" she inquires as she crosses over to the fridge, bending slightly to rummage through the bottom drawers. He leans over above her, and she laughs as he pokes suspiciously at a foil-covered dish.

"What's that?"

"Lasagne," she replies with a grin, pulling it out tugging back a corner of the tin foil to display it to him. "My grandmother made it for me. I think she thinks I'm anorexic."

He examines it briefly and she can't help but giggle at the look of wariness on his face.

"It's not going to kill you," she promises, holding one hand over her heart. "Scout's honour. It's just pasta and tomato and meat."

He thinks hard for a moment and then his expression clears and he professionally removes the foil and, with a flourish, inserts the dish into the oven and switches it on. Molly stands, slightly dumbstruck.

"Where did you learn to do that?"

He beams and he looks so like a delighted child that Molly falls in love with him all over again.

"Well, I actually managed the spell to bring me here about a month ago. I've been passing time while I look for you picking up on the customs of this time. The language didn't take me long, I just used a spell – the food was a little harder to get used to, but I think I can handle it now."

Molly swallows and she can't help the irrational, illogical feeling of betrayal that rises up inside of her. She tries to fight it down but she's a Weasley and they were never known for their rationality, after all.

"You've been in this time for a month?" she asks with a slight break in the middle of the sentence – because this is stupid and pointless and she shouldn't even be asking, because he's here now and that's all that matters. But then women in love have never been logical and she's not about to break the mould.

He must see the look on her face because he's in front of her instantly, his hands on either side of her face, forcing her to meet his eyes.

"I've been looking for you, Molly," he says firmly, and there's no hint of a lie in those bright eyes. "Every single second since I arrived, I've been looking for you."

She believes him then, because – well, because he wouldn't lie to her, not ever, and she knows it. She smiles and then suddenly her legs are wrapping around his waist and, like niffler drawn to gold, her lips are meeting his and he bumps into the stove and turns the oven off without noticing.

They have to wait another hour for food, but they both reckon that it's pretty worth it.

.:.

Once they've finished their meal Molly leads him through into the sitting room and they just collapse into each other and feel. It's some strange sort of disbelief, Molly thinks, because she's spent six years of her life pining after this man who she should never even have met but she did and oh, how she loves him.

Their pleasant reverie is disturbed by loud, angry, repeated hammering on the door, accompanied by various death threats if Molly doesn't open up right this instant.

The pair exchange a brief look, and then Molly rises and Salazar follows her into the hallway. Molly has come face-to-face with Lucy's skill at breaking down doors before, and she doesn't fancy having to fix her front door yet again.

"Alright, alright!" she protests as she yanks the door open. "Merlin, you'd think you lot were being burned alive out there or something."

Lucy pushes past her, Lily and Roxanne and Dominique in tow, and then stops dead at the sight of Salazar. He's lounging against the doorframe of the sitting room, still shirtless, looking dishevelled and impossibly handsome in the faded sunlight streaming in through the big windows.

"Good afternoon," he says, and Molly stifles a smirk as she shuts the door behind her astonished relatives. "I'm Salazar."

"Lucy," Lucy replies after a slight hesitation, and as the other three cautiously introduce themselves she turns to shoot her sister a frantically questioning glare. Molly just shrugs and elbows her way through the other four girls.

"D'you guys want some coffee or something?" she offers, knotting her fingers casually into Salazar's as she heads through into the kitchen. "What are you doing here anyway?"

She tries to focus on the fact that her family will have a million questions for her rather than the fact that inside she's still screaming, he's here, he's here with me and my hand is in his and it's impossible.

"We came to see what happened to you last night," Roxanne says, following the pair warily into the kitchen. "I guess now we know. How did… how did you two meet?"

Molly and Salazar exchange a brief, conspiratorial glance and it's amazing how quickly they learn to understand all the unspoken words.

"We worked together a while back," Salazar ventures, squeezing Molly's hand reassuringly. "We just bumped into each other again last night. Molly was locked out of her flat and I had heard she was living here and happened to be on my way to try to find her."

"Locked out?" Lily repeats, and her best Slytherin-suspicious glare is fixed on Salazar. "Molly was locked out. As in, a witch with a wand was locked out of her own flat?"

Molly smiles slightly as her family make themselves comfortable on various countertops and chairs, Salazar manoeuvring to stay as close to her as possible as she leans across the switch the kettle on.

"Are you calling Salazar a liar, Lily?" Molly challenges with a slight grin, and Lily's glare switches to her cousin.

"Yes, Moll. Yes I am."

Salazar laughs then, dispelling the somewhat tense atmosphere, and lets go of Molly's hand to offer a handshake to Lily.

"You're in Slytherin. I can just tell."

Lily, a small smile beginning to grow on her cheeks, accepts the handshake. "Yeah. How did you know?"

"He's Slytherin too," Molly explains, and her eyes meet his and they try to hold back the laughter. "He's good at knowing which are his type of people."

"So why did you pick Molly, then?" Dominique challenges, leaning forward to rest her chin on her hands, her expression evaluating. "Seeing as how she's Gryffindor and all."

"It wasn't a conscious decision," he replies, smiling down at Molly in such a private way she can feel the rest of the world falling away around her. "I just… knew. It took me a while to know, but by the time I did I knew I was never letting her go again."

He shifts slightly, adjusting to be closer to her, and Molly is about three seconds from just jumping him then and there when suddenly a chorus of "aww!"s break out, and Molly is reminded of her relatives in just enough time to turn away and busy herself with getting out mugs so they don't see the glazed look in her eyes.

"That's so romantic," Roxanne sighs, and Lucy and Lily nod frantically in agreement.

"Hey, Salazar, come fall in love with me instead," Lily suggests with a wink, grinning widely. "Teddy'll make do."

"No, no, she's taken!" Dominique insists, pushing Lily aside and taking a step closer to Salazar, her body language managing to be somehow joking and flirtatious at the same time. "Fall in love with me instead – I'm better at Quidditch!"

Salazar laughs and wraps his arm possessively around Molly's waist, his eyes for her only.

"Sorry, I'm taken. But if I meet any nice boys, I'll be sure to point them your way."

"Yeah, you must have friends," Lucy comments eagerly, and Lily gives a shriek of outrage and elbows the blonde in the ribs.

"What about Lorcan?" she exclaims, and Lucy shoots her cousin an equally outraged look.

"What about Teddy?"

"Touché, my friend," Lily replies gravely, her expression serious. "Touché."

Molly glances up to find Salazar's gaze flicking between the other girls, looking torn between amusement and confusion. Gently she reaches out to touch his hip and smiles when he looks down at her.

"Ignore them. They're all insane. It's a family thing that I have luckily escaped suffering from."

He returns the smile and wraps an arm firmly around her waist, and Molly can't help feeling slightly smug at the looks of pure envy written across her family's faces.

"Molly," Lily says suddenly, sharing a brief look with Roxanne and Dominique. "Can we talk to you for a second?"

"But –" Molly begins, only for Lily to cut her off with a slightly terrifying grin.

"It wasn't a request."

"Don't worry about your boyfriend, Moll," Lucy says, winking at her sister. "I think I can keep him occupied for a few minutes."

Reluctantly, Molly abandons Salazar to her sister's mercy, feeling his eyes on her as she's shepherded out by Dominique.

"Behave," she orders just as she reaches the doorway – and she's not entirely sure whether she's talking to her sister or to Salazar.

"Move," Lily commands as Molly hesitates, and once they're all safely in the sitting room Roxanne seals the door and puts a silencing charm on the room.

"Okay," Dominique says, and she and Roxanne move to take seats on the sofa on either side of Molly. "Where did you find him?"

"He was telling the truth," Molly replies calmly, trying to pretend she doesn't notice that ache somewhere around her breastbone that comes from being parted from him because it's clichéd and all in her head and, oh yeah, pathetic, now she comes to think about it.

It doesn't go away though.

"Don't bullshit with us, Moll," Lily says firmly, crossing her arms as she glares at her cousin. "Nobody who sees the way he looks at you could think that you two just met."

"Yeah," Roxanne agrees, also crossing her arms, her dark hair a curly nimbus around her face. "And what's he called? Salazar? Did you find him down Knockturn Alley or something? Who even names their kid after someone so old?"

Molly sighs and has to knead her temples at the onset of a headache – this is too much to process. Her day has been too long and too emotional and she could do without the mafia-esque interrogation.

"You guys want the truth?" she inquires finally, pulling her hands away from her face. "The real, honest-to-Merlin truth?"

All three nod in synch, and it would be funny if it wasn't quite so intimidating.

"Well," Molly begins, and she realises as words start rushing out of her mouth quite of their own accord that there's something really quite liberating about telling the truth. "I fell through a time portal in seventh year and ended up in the Chamber of Secrets. Salazar was down there, and I met him and I liked him almost right away. He took me back to his rooms and then I realised I was disappearing so I kissed him and then I ended up back in normal time."

She pauses to take stock of her cousin's expressions – they range through disbelieving on Dominique's part to downright eager for more information on Lily's.

"A couple of months later I couldn't deal with wondering any more so I went and found the portal again and I spent the night with him and I met Godric Gryffindor and… I had to leave in the morning. The portal sealed up. And I thought I'd never see him again."

She has to resist the temptation to urge them to accept the truth because, after all, life would probably be easier if nobody knew the truth of Salazar's origins.

"Oh my Merlin," Lily eventually says, reverently, her green eyes wide with incredulity. "That's Salazar Slytherin in your kitchen. As in the real Salazar Slytherin."

Molly has to admit to being impressed that Lily put two-and-two together so quickly, and she awards her cousin a nod of confirmation.

"Yeah – only, could you not tell anyone? It would be easier –" her words fall on deaf ears because Lily has already rocketed to her feet and by the time Molly, Roxanne and Dominique reach the kitchen Lily is clinging to Salazar like a limpet, her face smooshed against his bare chest, having a slight meltdown in her over-excitement.

"Sorry," Molly apologises, moving over to him and trying to prise Lily off. "She's always sort of hero-worshipped you. She didn't realise it was you before."

Salazar is laughing slightly, and between them they manage to detach Lily. The girl stands in front of Salazar as he moves slightly behind Molly, his fingers sliding over the bare skin of her lower back in a way that's probably inappropriate in public.

"Okay, so, now that's out in the open," Molly begins a trifle nervously, trying to ignore the irresistible tug of skin-on-skin, "can we get a little peace and quiet?"

Lucy wolf-whistles, and Lily and Dominique dissolve into giggles as Molly starts to herd them out of the door, tugging Roxanne along with her.

"I can't pretend I'm not jealous, Moll," Dominique announces shamelessly as Molly manages to get them all to the front door. "I mean, just look at those abs!"

"Okay, bye guys," Molly says firmly, expelling all four out into the hallway and shutting the door in their hopeful faces. She leans back against the door and just looks at Salazar where he is standing in the kitchen doorway.

"I'm sorry about them," she says eventually, and then suddenly he's striding down the hall to take her in his arms and she's melting into his embrace like quicksilver.

"Don't be," he reassures her, his hand tracing crop circles on her skull as he holds her tightly. "They're actually pretty funny."

"You say that now," Molly groans, her hands fastening around his back, "but you've only spent a few minutes with them. They're unbearable in bigger doses."

"I'll look forward to that," he replies, tilting her chin up towards him and bending to claim her in another kiss. She presses herself even more closely against him and revels in this closeness. She thinks that she could spend the rest of her life like this and still not spend enough time close to him.

"Will I get to meet the rest of your family then?" he inquires between kisses, and Molly hooks her arms around his neck and smiles against his mouth.

"Yes. Only not for a while. I want to have you all to myself first."

He smiles too, and then he's lifting her up and bearing her back to her bedroom and Molly stops thinking and starts knowing, without a doubt, that she's never going to be parted from him ever again.


A/N: please don't favourite/alert without reviewing, thank you!