For the song-fic boot camp with the prompt "Better" and the song "Begin Again" by Taylor Swift. For the original character boot camp with the prompt "Horizon." For the uncommon pairings multichapter competition. For the Next Gen OC Challenge.
I am not JKR or Taylor Swift and don't own the song or the canon characters.
A million thanks to my Beta, keeptheotherone. This story wouldn't be what it is without her.
One more quick note: The article here (and elsewhere when I use an article) will be written in British English, as it would have been written. Feel free to Britpick the articles. The rest of the story (for my American sanity) will be in American English.
I've been spending the last eight months
Thinking all love ever does
Is break, and burn, and end.
But on a Wednesday, in a cafe, I watched it begin again.
–Taylor Swift, Begin Again
Kaelyn Finnigan Spotted Wearing Large Diamond Ring
Seen yesterday at Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes in Diagon Alley, Kaelyn Finnigan's always-stellar outfits were complemented by a large diamond ring on her left hand. There is no official confirmation of Ms Finnigan's engagement to Lysander Scamander, lead singer of rock band Wizards and Wrackspurts, but a source did spot the two out to dinner last night at London's posh wizarding restaurant, Lumos. Neither Ms Finnigan nor Mr Scamander responded to the owls sent to them in the wake of this excitement.
The "It Couple" has been in a public relationship for about eight months, but sources say the two had romantic ties while still at Hogwarts. An attempt was made to contact Mr Scamander's ex-girlfriend, Molly Weasley, daughter of Minister for Magic, Percy Weasley, for comment, but we have not received a response.
Get your quills and parchment ready! Upon confirmation of Ms Finnigan and Mr Scamander's engagement, the official betting will begin for wedding dates, colours, etc. Mr George Weasley has kindly agreed to organise this. Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes will host the betting at both their Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade locations.
– Parvati Patil, senior correspondent to Witch Weekly
Molly Weasley slammed the cover of Witch Weekly shut, the force of it shaking the bar at the Leaky Cauldron and knocking over Roxanne's butterbeer. "Sorry Roxanne, Mrs. Longbottom," Molly mumbled as the bartender magicked away the mess and Summoned a pitcher to refill Roxanne's drink.
Without a further look at her cousin, who had forced her out of their shared flat for the first time in weeks, Molly began to gather her things. She hadn't made it very far before Roxanne turned and caught her arm - while normally she was proud to cheer Roxanne on as a professional Chaser, Roxie's reflexes weren't particularly welcome at this point. "Molly, you can't run away from them forever, you know. All of us are famous. They won't stop following Lysander and Kaelyn around, and if your dad stays Minister, you're bound to be in the spotlight again soon, too. Just grow up and face the world. Have a butterbeer with your favorite cousin. If you try and disappear, it won't matter; Parvati, Rita, someone will catch up with you."
Molly sighed, regretting the pleading look on Roxanne's face, but she wasn't ready yet. Eight months wasn't long enough to get over her electric romance with her childhood best friend. She wasn't sure there was a length of time long enough to get over Lysander. "Wanna bet? I'm sure I can avoid them at least a little longer." She yanked her arm free of Roxie's grasp and walked out of the Leaky Cauldron, Disapparating right before the threshold.
She didn't go far; just to an alley in Soho near her favorite Muggle cafe, Flat White. Dusting herself off and getting over the wave of nausea, she walked in and ordered a mocha, glad she remembered to carry Muggle money on her. Drink in hand, she picked up a Muggle newspaper and sat down to read. Time passed and she was left in relative obscurity, no one second-guessing her presence or her slightly out-of-place clothing choices. Molly hadn't felt this much peace in a long time.
Lost in her reading, she barely noticed as footsteps approached her table until they were nearly there. She sighed, upset that someone managed to find her, but she kept her head down, pretending not to notice, even as he began to speak. "Molly? What are you doing here?"
She looked up from her coffee, which she had been absentmindedly stirring, and completely ignored the question. "Daniel? I haven't seen you in years! How have you been?"
He pulled out the chair across from her and sat down. Molly studied him. It had been six years since she'd seen him, the day they graduated from Hogwarts. Time hadn't done much to change him. He was still slight, without the muscle definition of his father, or the speed inherent in the muscles of his mother. Plain looking, but exuding kindness, he smiled at her. "I'm doing well, Molly. But what are you doing here? I didn't think-" A pause. "this kind of cafe was your style."
Molly smiled at his overemphasis. And he was right after all. But what was she supposed to say? That she was tired of seeing posters for Wizards and Wrackspurts everywhere, or the cover of Witch Weekly? Daniel was sure to think, like the rest of the world, that eight months was too long to care still. "I just felt like a cup of coffee and a crowd of people who didn't know anything about me. But that hasn't really worked out, has it?"
"If you want me to leave..."
"It's fine, Daniel. Really, it's a pleasant surprise. It's not like you're Rita Skeeter or something," she said, smiling.
"I sure hope you don't lump me into the same category as her. That article she wrote about you last winter... it made me sick."
She swallowed. "So, what have you been up to? I'm surprised I don't see you around much. I felt like you were always there when we were kids."
"I got a job at Gringotts out of school. Been working a lot, traveling some. I've enjoyed it."
"What happened with you and Bailey?"
"She moved to Spain. It wasn't going to work out, anyway, though. Really, I'm better for it."
"Yeah, well..." Molly looked down again, stirring her coffee.
"I wish I had something to ask you, Mol."
"What do you mean?"
His look was apologetic. "You could ask me about my job and my love life and what I'm up to, but I've always known, with you."
"You read that crap?"
"Unfortunately. It was the only way I had to..."
"To keep up with you. I was sorry we lost contact."
Molly wasn't sure what to say. In all honesty, she had barely thought of Daniel Wood at all since graduation, but their fathers had been friends in school, and they had spent some time together over the summer holidays. Talking to him now, she was surprised she hadn't wondered more about him. He'd always been a great friend. "Yeah, me too."
"Molly, I'm sorry if this is too forward, or too soon for you, but do you want to go out sometime?"
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have asked. I know how much you loved Lysander."
"No - I don't want to talk about that. I was just caught off guard. I mean, well, I suppose we could go out sometime..."
"Are you free Saturday?" he asked.
She stared into her coffee. It was cooling down beyond her liking and she wondered if anyone would notice her perform a simple heating charm. "Oh - sorry, Daniel. I promised Roxie I'd go to her Quidditch game. I haven't been in ages, and since it's a home game-"
"Well, I was already planning on going, actually."
"Yeah. And for the same reason, too. Dad says I don't show my support enough." He gave a laugh he tried to pass off as disinterested, but she could hear his exasperation. His father wouldn't think showing up at every game with one of those Muggle foam fingers saying Puddlemere #1 would be supportive enough. "Could I meet you for dinner first? Pick you up at six?"
"Let's- let's just meet there, if you don't mind. Maybe afterward we could get ice cream or something. Anyway, I should go. Roxanne will wonder where I am." She stood up, and Daniel followed suit. He walked her out of the cafe to the alley where they could Disapparate from. The sun was setting on the horizon, bathing the wet pavement in an orange hue and making it sparkle. It had been a long time since Molly had paid attention to the color of the sunset.
"It was great to run into you," Daniel said, and leaned down to kiss her cheek. She blushed at his nearness and felt butterflies rise up from her stomach and catch in her throat. All she could do was nod as he Disapparated.
She was alone again, but this time her obscurity wasn't quite so comforting. For the first time in nearly two years, she found herself anxiously preparing for a date with someone that wasn't Lysander. There was little reason to expect much would come of it - a Quidditch game with an old friend wasn't much of a first date, after all - but for the first time in eight months, she was excited about something.