A/N: In this story Molly is just starting Hogwarts in her first year while Arthur is a second-year. Takes place on the evening of the students' arrival.

Written for Backstroke 2000+ in the 2012 Hogwarts Games, the Friendship Slice of the Chinese Moon Festival Competition,the Family Boot Camp with 'object', the Minor Character Boot Camp with 'creepy', but especially for…

Happy Birthday to Rochelle! (slightlysmall) Hope you had a wonderful day.

Enjoy!

)O(

Little Molly Prewett ran through the halls of Hogwarts, her footsteps echoing horribly and her heart racing. It was just like her to get lost when looking for the bathroom, and in the middle of the night too. She had woken up because of a strong pressure on her bladder with still few hours to go until sunrise. Normally, she would have shied away at prospect of looking for a bathroom in an enormous castle after curfew, but the rich food served at last night's feast had been too much.

No-one had told her about the chamber pots kept under each bed.

She stumbled on through the long corridors, searching for a door, any door that looked as if it might be marked 'ladies'. Finally, after a seemingly endless journey, she found herself starting at just such a door, looking to her like the epitome of perfection. She sighed in relief when she saw it and sprinted the last few yards to get through the door in time.

)O(

At the other end of the castle in the Gryffindor common room, a figure crept down the stairs of the boys' dormitories and through the portrait hole. The boy then made his way up to the seventh floor corridor, the place he had been most excited about seeing again after his arrival at Hogwarts.

Arthur Weasley had discovered the Room of Curiosities last year when his new-found best friend had dared him to sneak out at night and sleep outside the common room. Arthur, valiant Gryffindor that he was, accepted, but had soon become bored when he failed to fall asleep in the cold corridor. He had wandered off up the stairs, looking for something that would distract him until the night was up. He had found the tapestry of someone barmy teaching trolls how to dance, which amused him for a few minutes.

When he had become bored by the tapestry, he turned around to find a door which had not been there before. When he walked through it, he saw his wildest dreams captured and made to exist in real life. There were stacks of curious old and faded objects, there were books on the obscurest of topics, there were even screeches to be heard coming from some distant corner. He had spent the rest of the night strolling among the curios, gazing in wonder at every one of them. If a person did not know where he was, they would probably take a guess at 'Honeydukes'.

His enthrallment with everything in sight meant that Arthur barely made it to his first class in the morning.

He returned to the Room whenever he had free time and no-one to pester him, which didn't happen often. The Room was what he had missed most when he had left Hogwarts for the summer holidays. Now, however, he was about to reacquaint himself with it. He couldn't wait.

)O(

Molly finished her business in the bathroom and was just leaving it when she heard scuffling coming from the stairs. Panic seized her and her body went rigid when she realised that she was about to be caught. 'Detention on the first day! I'll never make any friends now!' she thought. She hadn't considered the possibility of being found before she had left the safety of the common room, because the prefect who had taken care of them had confided jokingly to the first-years that the only person who was on regular patrol duty was an old caretaker: too deaf to hear before he was heard and too lame to catch anyone. Now, however, the outcome seemed inevitable. Even if the caretaker was lame he would catch her easily, petrified as she was.

She watched the long shadow move higher and higher up the stairs, and soon a figure came into her line of sight. A slightly winded, distinctly red-haired boy not much older than her was puffing his way up the stairs. If her surprise had not been great before, it increased as soon as he raised his head to see her standing there and laughed.

"Found the Room, have you? Don't you think it's absolutely marvellous?"

"I'm sorry? What room?" She looked around her-the bathroom door was gone! It had disappeared as soon as she'd looked away. Molly stared in shock at the empty wall where it had been.

"Oh...I see it's gone. So, what are you doing here if you didn't come here to see the Room?" he walked towards her, chatting as if their meeting was the most ordinary thing in the world.

"I...well...that's none of your business!" Molly's sense of righteous indignation kicked in as soon as she felt herself becoming vulnerable. "I could ask the same of you."

"Me? But I've told you why I come here. Who wouldn't want to see the Room at its most magnificent?"

Molly was becoming frustrated as the conversation took a turn onto a subject she was apparently woefully ignorant of. Granted, she was a first-year, but this boy seemed little older than her and yet he acted as if he knew everything about the castle, and as if everyone else should too.

"What is this 'room' you keep talking about?"

"I'm not surprised you've not heard of it; only a few people have. I only found it when I was looking for something interesting to take my mind off things. Here-I'll show you." He walked towards the wall and stood in front of it with his eyes screwed up tight, muttering under his breath. For a minute, he reminded Molly of her little brother who used to do that kind of thing whenever he was thinking very hard, or at least trying to appear as if he was. This thought suddenly made her realise that she didn't know the boy's name. She hadn't seen him around at the feast, but from the tie he wore loosely hanging from his collar she thought he might be from Gryffindor. This piece of knowledge gave her the courage to ask, "What's your name?" even though he was a-boy.

It looked like Molly would have to wait for her answer however, as the wall in front of the boy was shifting, making some of the stones fade into wood and turning a jagged edge sticking out of the wall into a door handle. Molly stared, stunned, as a fully formed, actualdoor appeared in front of her.

"Come with me, this is nothing compared to what's inside," the boy grabbed her hand eagerly and made to open the door, but-

"Stop!" she shrieked. The sound echoed ominously throughout the corridor, rending the two children still as rabbits waiting to be attacked. The boy let go of her hand and eased himself away from her. He asked, gently, "What's wrong? I'm sorry if I did anything to upset you, but I thought you wanted to see the Room. It's a great place."

"I'm sure it is, but I just met you and I don't even know your name. My parents told me never to go with someone whose name I didn't know, and it doesn't seem right to go with you. I mean, you're a-," she started to lose her nerve as she came down to the real problem.

She started again, "I've just met a whole bunch of people and seen so much of the castle already and almost wet the bed on the first night here-and anyway, I've never had a friend who was a-well, someone like you," Molly rambled, still failing to come down to the real reason for her agitation.

The boy nodded and held out his hand. "You're right, I'm sorry I hadn't introduced myself earlier. It's just that the excitement of the Room...I'm Arthur, but everyone except my parents calls me Artie. I think it's a bit childish, to be honest, but I've never managed to out-grow it."

Molly started at his outstretched hand and shook it hesitantly. She was unused to this level of formality, but thought that as long as he had started it she would follow his lead. "I'm Molly. It's very nice to meet you, Arthur."

"I could say the same to you," he replied, attempting to say it smoothly. Then he saw the flaw in his statement which most adults fail to notice. "Well, I could say all of that 'cept the 'I'm Molly' bit," he laughed nervously, "My name isn't Molly. That's your name."

"I know."

Molly could feel herself warming to the awkward boy in front of her. Maybe he could actually be her friend, even though he was a boy. Maybe, but it would probably take of a lot of time to get used to such a weird friendship.

"Would you, ah, like to go inside now? I promise you the Room's worth it all."Arthur moved his hand in a sweeping gesture towards the door as if ushering her inside. He eagerly put his hand on the doorknob and looked back at her with great glee on his face. "Ready?"

"Sure, but I don't understand how this works. How did the door get here? What happened to the bathroom that was here before? What's inside?"

"To answer your questions-I don't know, what bathroom?, and you'll see in a minute. Respectively." Without further ado he let his impatience take a hold of him; he swung open the door.

Molly almost fainted when she saw what was inside. This was all too much for one day. She let her hand be taken by Arthur, still too busy staring at what was inside the room to really notice him, and walked inside. When the two children had come through, the door swung shut and the corridor was silent once more.

)O(

Inside the magical room (surely this castle isn't really so big as to be able to fit everything in?) Arthur was already busy, walking quickly towards one of the great towering stacks and dragging Molly behind him.

He came to a particularly colourful section of rubbish and said proudly, "This is all mine. I managed to get all of it from different parts of the Room, and let me tell you, some of those things weren't easy to get out. Look at this," he picked up an assortment of twisted metal wires made into the shape of a bird-of-prey. "I had to get this old beauty out from under a stack of mouldy books. It was right at the back of them and I could only see it because one of the books had rotted right through. It was disgusting, but I managed to get it out!" He proffered it to Molly, who shrank away from the bird as if it might attack her.

"No, thank you. I'm trying not to get my robes dirty before I even start classes," she said, but upon seeing his look of disappointment, continued. "-but I'd love to know more about that-that thingy over there."

The fervour returned to Arthur's eyes as he scrambled to complete her request. When he saw what she was pointing to, he lost some of his enthusiasm and replied nonchalantly, "Oh, that's nothing. It isn't even mine; it must have fallen from some shelf or other during the holidays."

"I'd still like to see it. It looks interesting," and it did, at least to Molly's eyes.

Arthur hopped into the mess of objects (they must have been disturbed when he wasn't here. He doesn't look like the kind of person who's usually disorganised. At least I hope not) and retrieved the old thing. It was faded and the metal it was made of had become dull over time, so he rubbed it on his robes before handing it to the girl.

Molly took the object (crown?) in her hands and started turning it over and examining it from all angles. It had stones embedded in it, as indeed a crown should have, but they didn't look like any of the precious stones she'd ever seen. They glittered and glimmered with a fiery passion, but the warmth of the crown was opposite to that of the stones. It was cold as only something forever frozen can be, and it wouldn't yield to warmth when she held it in her hands. She tied blowing on it and rubbing her fingers over it, but it refused to change in spite of her ministrations.

Arthur watched over all this with a kind of curious wonder. He had never thought that something as dull as a bit of metal could be found to be so interesting. He desperately wanted to show the new girl his collection of the oldest books he could find, but something stopped him. Maybe it was that fact that he didn't want to disturb anyone who looked over something with such concentration, or maybe he just didn't want to disturb her because she was a girl. He had heard of other boys having girls be their friends, but he'd never actually seen any evidence of it. Maybe, however, it would be possible, as odd as it sounded. It would be interesting to have someone he could bring here who would share his interest in old things instead of turning him down to play Quidditch instead.

Tentatively, he spoke, "I think that's been there for ages, going by the colour of the metal. My dad taught me how to distinguish between the different ages of metals and I'm pretty sure that that thing is older than my parents, possibly even the castle."

"It's beautiful, but so cold." Molly could feel the crown trying to say something to her, but it was too quiet to hear. She moved her hands so that the crown was right next to her ear, and before she knew it, it was on her head. She turned to look solemnly at Arthur.

"How do I look?" she said in all seriousness.

"Very nice, but I don't think it suits you, exactly…er," he replied. He wished she'd take it off. He didn't like the way her eyes glazed over and her stare became blank. Even though he'd met the girl only a short time before, he could see that she was changed. He stance was more confident so she towered instead of slumped, her head was held high. She had paled. This Molly looked old.

Carefully, he took down the crown from her head and put it down on one of the many stacks.

She shook her head as if roused from a daydream, then smiled up at him. "I'm glad you did that. It was starting to creep me out." She looked down at the crown and spoke more softly, as if to herself.

"Look how beautiful it is. I wonder if I could take it-"

"No!" Arthur cut in. "That thing's evil. Haven't you wondered why this room is full of disused old objects? It can't be because someone wanted them. I think I'd better hide it, for your own good."

"But it's so pretty…"

"It changed you. That's never a good thing unless someone good does it."

"But it spoke to me; it said it was my friend. It said it would help me make friends here."

"If it's alive, then where's its brain? Anyway, you don't need it to help you make friends, seeing as you've already managed to...make one." Back to being awkward, Arthur stared at his feet. 'What is wrong with me? She's just a friend. What does it matter if she's a- a girl,' he thought.

Molly too, looked down at her feet, noticing that she was still wearing her bunny slippers. She knew what he was avoiding just as well as she knew that it was the same thing she didn't want to discuss. But it would have to be said, so she might as well say it. After all, her being sorted into Gryffindor would mean nothing if she wasn't brave every once in a while. Molly took a deep breath, raised her eyes and said-

"Is it true you have cooties?"

)O(

Arthur and Molly soon became fast friends, taking as much time as they could out of their busy lives to go to the Room together. They could spend hours talking and examining and adding to Arthur's collection, but not once did Molly come across the crown again. She knew she shouldn't be looking for it, but sometimes, when Arthur was busy studying for his OWLS, she would sneak upstairs and take another look through the stacks. She couldn't resist the pull of the crown just as other girls couldn't resist the allure of new robes, but the difference was that they got what they wanted. In some form or other, the desire was always at the back or her mind, tickling her brain like the lightest of feathers.

As for being friends, Molly soon got used to Arthur hanging around her, weird though it was in the beginning. When they sat in the common room talking about a new discovery, she could hear her girlfriends chatting and giggling nearby, occasionally sneaking glances at the pair.

Molly could never understand why they found it funny, though. Didn't they know that a friendship between a boy and a girl was a perfectly normal thing? It's not as if boys had some kind of infectious disease.

That would just be silly.

)O(

Fin