For the Bingo Card Drabble Competition — square three, Arthur Weasley, friendship genre. 100-750 words.
Also for Cheeky Slytherin Lass's Seven Fics Challenge, for the Genre friendship.
They call him odd. The other boys, the other Gryffindors. They call him oddball, stranger, freak.
He's eleven. Their words hurt — they land like knives hilt deep in his chest and they stay there.
He wonders sometimes if it would be easier to just give it all up — give up his hobby of tinkering with Muggle things in his spare time. Be normal.
But the plump redheaded girl smiles at him from across the common room.
The next week, she sits closer.
The following week, she sits in the chair beside him.
"Hi," she says somewhat shyly. "I'm Molly."
"I know," he says. The boys and girls may not interact very much, even within houses, but Arthur has made a point to learn their names — it's only polite. "Molly Prewett. I'm Arthur Weasley."
"I know," she says. She smiles at him. He wonders why she's talking to him. She nods at the toy truck he's been disassembling absent-mindedly. "What's that?"
"It's a truck."
"A truck!" he says excitedly, and he knows that his eyes are probably gleaming the way they do when he talks about Muggle things. "It's like a beast Muggles have created out of non-living things — it runs on… on… petrol." He stumbles over the last word.
She wrinkles her nose. "That's foul!"
Arthur nods fiercely. "I know. But it's amazing! They make things move."
"Go on, then," she says. "Make it move."
Arthur laughs. "Oh, no. This is just a toy model. It doesn't run."
"Well, what good is it, then?"
"It's a children's toy," he explains. "It's not supposed to run."
"Can I see it?"
He gazes at her warily, but after a second he pops the wheel back on the axel and passes it to her. She inspects the toy truck very studiously.
Then, abruptly, she says, "They think you're crazy."
"I know," he says softly.
"I think they're wrong." Her tones dares him to contradict her.
"You… you do?"
She nods stubbornly. "I don't think caring about something that not everyone else cares about makes you crazy."
He smiles, genuinely smiles. The knife blades in his chest seem to dissolve — not all of them, no. But the difference is perceptible.
"Thank you, Molly Prewett."
She smiles shyly up at him through her hair.
"You can keep it, if you want." The words pop out of his mouth before he knows he's going to say them — and he's surprised to find he means it.
Her hand closes around the truck. "You mean it?"
He nods, and she beams, dimples showing. "Thank you, Arthur Weasley."
She flounces off to her friends, clutching the truck tightly. He watches her go, knowing she will probably never know how much that conversation mattered to him.
Thank you, Molly Prewett.