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Disclaimer:  I do not own anything. It all belongs to J.K. Rowling. The only things I own are the plot and any characters you do not recognize from the books.

Author's Note:  Here's another nice and long chapter for y'all! I hope you all enjoy. And I'd like to thank tell_me_what_the_truth_is for helping me to write and finish this chapter in the last couple days with our constant word wars on skype. Also, I'd like to thank her for helping me settle on the chapter title, for which was not thought on until after this chapter was written. Anyway, enough of my babbling, hope I don't disappoint y'all, and enjoy!




The first week back after winter hols sped by fast Molly barely even blinked for fear she would miss something.  She barely saw much of Finn, always seeming to miss him.  If she was busy, he wasn’t and vice versa.  It seemed as though professors were pumping up the volume in their lectures and coursework with only a few months of the seventh years’ schooling left before them. 

Molly was about ready to scream halfway through the second week back.  Things kept happening.  Not to mention the seventh years had yet to get the results from their mock exams back.  How were they supposed to know where they needed to concentrate their studies on for N.E.W.T.s if their mock results haven’t come back yet?  What was the point in mocks if they were not graded at a reasonable time anyway?  Honestly, they needed to get with the program.  She was not sure how much more of the waiting she could handle; she was already going insane with worry and it was only mocks.

However, after supper on that second Wednesday back, Finn caught up with Molly leaving the Great Hall.  She had missed spending time with him.  He looked different, somehow, that evening.  Ruffled, or a bit at least, like he had been spending all of his spare time hunched over textbook after textbook studying; there were definitely bags under his eyes.  He looked wretched.  She could only imagine how she appeared to him.

She had to confess she had not so much as glanced in a mirror in the past week, not caring much to spend any of her time on vanity.  All of her time went into her coursework.

“Molly,” he finally said.  “Do you have a moment?  I was wondering if we could go for a walk around the lake.”

“Sure,” Molly said, instantly agreeing to time with Finn.

“Great,” Finn replied.  “I’ve missed spending time with you.”

“Me, too,” Molly said. 

Both of them fell into step alongside each other as they exited through the front doors in the Entrance hall in comfortable silence.  The night was chilly, snow still thick on the ground.  Though, it had stopped snowing earlier in the afternoon, so the snow that blanketed the grounds was crisp and clean.  Snow crunched beneath their feet as they made their way down the sloping grounds toward the frozen solid lake.

“It’s always so beautiful during the winter here,” Molly said, content.

“Hmm, it is,” Finn replied, putting his hands in the pockets of his cloak.  “How have you been?”

Molly stopped walking, glancing up into Finn’s eyes.  He was not much taller than her, only a few inches, and she did not have to look too far up.  “I’m alright, but how are you?  You look tired.”  She worried at her bottom lip some.

“I’m alright, honest,” Finn said.  “I’ve just been studying nonstop.  The professors sure don’t waste much time after break to heap on the loads of coursework, do they?”  He grinned, attempting to crack a joke and failing.  He really looked exhausted.  Molly reached out and grabbed hold of his hand with hers.  “Really, I’m okay, Molly.”

“You know, it’s okay to sleep,” Molly said, smiling wanly.  “No one is going to fault you for getting some rest, you know.”

“Hmm,” Finn said, in thought. 

“What is it?”  Molly asked.

“I’m just confused what I should do after Hogwarts is all,” Finn confessed.  “I mean, do I work in a Ministry position or as a Curse Breaker for Gringotts.  Do I go for money or something I’d enjoy?”

“Do you want me to answer this?”  Molly asked, knowing already what she would tell him.  She was choosing a path after Hogwarts of what she loved to do.  She loved Herbology, the feel of the soil in her fingers as she dug or buried a magical plant to discover its properties.  There was always something new to discover.

Finn raked his fingers through his dark, tousled hair in frustration.  “Ah, I don’t know.  My dad works in the Magical Law Enforcement department as a solicitor, same as his dad and so on.  Even Declan followed in our father’s footsteps, working right alongside him.  There’s more than what I love to do at stake.  It’s all about whether I choose the same path as several generations of males on my father’s side has done, or do what interests me.  Do I go against my family or follow in his footsteps?”

“Well, it isn’t supposed to be a hard decision, now is it?” Molly said, with her brow rose in question, “If you’d rather be a Curse Breaker than a solicitor, go for it.  What do you have to lose?  I’m sure your family will accept your decision.”

“I’m sure you’re right,” Finn said.  “But I feel like I’m obligated to follow into the family business.  My dad has his own practice set up within the Magical Law Enforcement and I’m sure he’s hoping that I join him and my brother’s partnership.  It’ll be a father and sons practice, as opposed to only a father-son practice like it is now.”

“You know,” Molly replied, “I’m having a hard time imagining Declan has a solicitor.  He really doesn’t seem like the serious type.”

“He’s not,” Finn said, a smile breaking the surface.  “But he is damn good at arguing a case.  And he can handle himself well, while thinking on his feet if need be.”

“I suppose being Slytherin and all, you’d make a good lawyer.”

“Yeah, we are sly ones at that,” Finn said in agreement.

“But you should decide to do what you want to do because it’s something you truly want to do.  It isn’t about money or family, it’s about you.”

“Yeah, I suppose so.”

Molly led Finn down the rest of the way toward the frozen lake.  She stopped at the edge, but Finn continued walking, stepping right onto the solid, frozen lake.  Naturally Molly followed since her hand was still entwined in his.  She felt dangerous, standing on the solid ice that was the lake without ice skates on.

But apparently ice skates were not needed as Finn incanted a charm on their shoes to glide safely over the ice.  She slipped and slid a bit before regaining her balance, holding onto Finn’s arms while peering into his bright, green eyes for support.

“Whoa, there,” Finn said aloud.  “Careful.  You don’t want to slip and bust your arse, as that would hurt.”

“You would know,” Molly said sarcastically.

“Actually, yes, I would,” Finn said.  “I busted my arse gliding on the frozen lake at my family’s manor a few years’ back.  Ask my brother, he loves to recount that particular tale, especially seeing as he was the one to cause me to fall.”

Molly rolled her eyes.  “Why are boys so violent?”

“We’re not violent,” Finn argued, “just rambunctious.”

Molly raised her brows, before giggling.  She continued to giggle with sheer abandon, forgetting to keep her balance, thus sliding to the side.  In his haste to help her back into an upright position, Finn ended up tumbling down after her. Both of them ended up in a heap on the cold, frosted ice.  When she tried sitting up, Finn pulled her back down and caused her to lose her balance all over again before she had barely regained it from their tumble in the first place.  Deciding to quit and give into gravity, Molly rolled over and lay on her back on the thick iced-over lake beside Finn, both gazing at the stars that shown down on them.

“Do you think we’ll last?”  Molly asked, after a brief silence that had fell between them.

“You mean as a couple?”  Finn said, his confusion pouring into each word. 

“Mmmhm,” Molly said, nodding her head, gently bumping it back on the ice.

“Maybe,” Finn said.  “I’d like to hope so.  But we are only in the beginning stages and already finding it hard to spend time together.”

“What about in a few months after we’ve graduated?”  Molly asked, voicing her fears aloud.  “I don’t want to lose touch with you, Finn.”

“You won’t,” Finn replied, determined.  “I won’t allow that to happen.”

Molly sighed, feeling the weight of the world on her shoulders as she did.  “But what happens if I leave the country for a job offer?  It’s going to be awfully hard to keep up our relationship long distantly.”

“We can survive it,” Finn said, ever the optimist of the pair.  “I won’t ever let you go; I already lost six years of being your friend, I’m not about to lose anymore, Mols.”

She wanted to believe him, she really did.  With all her heart, Molly trusted him fully and completely in everything he said now.  They had come so far since the start of that school term.  She started it out hating him, or rather not liking him for his constant bullying of her.  It was all still so new, raw, and who knew if it was strong enough to hold should either one had been forced to move a great distance away.

She wished she knew; all of the uncertainty surrounding them at the moment was driving her mad.  She had to know, had to. 

“We should maybe stand now,” Finn said, being the one to break the silence this time around, “before our cloaks, you know, end up stuck to the ice.”

Molly nodded, but did not make to get up.  Instead she lay there until Finn proffered his hand to help pull her up.  His hand was warm, engulfing her cold hand.  It felt nice.  Looking into his green eyes, she felt the butterflies in her stomach continue their tireless fluttering again. 

“Thanks,” Molly said, suddenly feeling bashful as she was made more aware than ever being in Finn’s presence.  One might think she would be used to his attentions now, but no.  She still felt like a giddy first year on her first day of Hogwarts. 

Finn shrugged, showing her that dashing crooked grin of his again.  She would never become immune to the effects his grin had on her, never.  Forever she would find herself going weak as long as he continued to grin at her that way.  She really was hopeless where Finn Harper was concerned, for she was certain.

They ended up slipping and sliding, while keeping their balance for most part, toward the edge of the lake to step back onto the fresh, crunchy snow that blanketed the frozen earth.  Once they had reached solid ground, the pair stood in a contented silence before trudging back up toward the castle in the dark of the winter night.

*

Finn sat in the Slytherin common room a couple nights later with his mates.  They were all laughing at the way a fourth year Gryffindor boy had caused a statue to explode earlier that day.  The boy had thrown a tantrum over his wireless being stolen.  He had not been around the area where the event had occurred, but had heard of it being passed around so often he felt as though he had watched the statue go KA-BOOM instead of only hearing the rumours. 

He had been in a Prefect meeting at the time, which had been about the excess of accidental magic that had bursted forth among the younger students lately.  More than there used to be.  Basically, the Head Girl and Head Boy had told them they needed to pay closer attention to the younger students as a way to step in before accidental magic would be released.  That way the youngsters would learn better how to harness and control their bouts of unexpected magic that so far their emotions are controlling.

It was a bit ironic that during the meeting, another young wizard had lost all control over his magic in his rage.  Never before had Finn ever lost so much control over his own magic, and could barely believe his ears when he had first heard.

Currently, however, Finn was not thinking of what his friends were laughing over.  He kept running Molly’s words of doubt around his mind.  He understood what it meant to be optimistic versus realistic, yet he had trouble deciphering how exactly he was being over their last discussion.  He was a natural optimist, but could already place Molly as a realist as she did not seem to think of only the positive outcome of something.  Rather, he was becoming aware of how Molly seemed to weigh in all the odds before coming up with an answer to a question she was otherwise unsure about.  It would either be a pro or con that helped them in the long run.

Finn did not wish to think about what it would mean to lose Molly’s companionship.  He cared too much to let go, especially when he had only just gained Molly as his girlfriend; it would almost seem like he had thrown out all of the hard work he had gone through to make Molly realise how great a match they made.

“Oi, Harper,” Nott said, tossing a wadded up paper ball at his head.  “What’s up?”

Ducking to avoid the paper ball, he shook his head clear of thoughts of Molly.  “Nothing, just thinking.”

“That’s some pretty hardcore thinking, then,” Nott replied conversationally.  “You have been letting Kelsey’s cat curl its body around your ankle for at least half an hour, when you usually shove it away.”

Finn looked down at his feet and sure enough saw and felt the black cat rubbing itself against his shins.  Scowling in disgust over the pitiful excuse of a feline, he set his feet up on the foot rest before him.  It was not that he did not like cats; he just did not care much for the particular cat that constantly had to rub up against him.  Kelsey’s cat never left him alone, which was buggering to say the least.

“Now, tell us,” Nott continued on, “what had taken all of your concentration in thinking over?”

“I dunno,” Finn replied, shrugging. “I suppose I’m thinking of what Molly brought up the other night.”

“Care to elaborate,” Avery prompted him.

Finn shrugged his broad shoulders again.  There were some things he cared not to discuss with his friends about his relationship with Molly.  They knew they were together now, but that was all they knew.  He kept to himself when it came to what he and Molly got up to, not much caring for his friends’ commentary.

“Seriously, we can’t help you if you don’t share,” Nott scolded.  “We want to help, mate.  You’re obviously torn about something with all the gloom show you’re putting on now.”

“I don’t care to discuss it with either of you,” Finn said.  “It isn’t anything major, only a minor road block that lays ahead of Molly and mine relationship, waiting to test its strengths.”

“What’s that?”  Goyle asked, ever the thick lad.  “What’s it testing?”

“Isn’t it obvious,” Avery said, rolling his eyes and giving Goyle a smack on the head with his palm.  “Something is already testing the restraints that hold Harper together with Molly.  Thus meaning it could end what they have together all too soon.”

“Wait,” Goyle said, scratching his head.  “They’re dating now?  I thought we hated Molly?”  Poor fellow looked ever more confused than he usually did, it was pitiful.

“Seriously, where have you been?” Nott said.  “You are dumber than a troll.”

“Enough,” Finn said, constantly feeling like a referee that would forever step between his friends’ spats.  It kind of made him feel like a Hufflepuff, to which made him shudder at the very notion.  He was very un-Hufflepuff-like; too cunning to be considered as kind-hearted and hard working.

“All right,” Avery said.  “Tell us what’s going on between you and Molly, then.”

Finn sighed.  His friends would never learn to forget and let live.  “We’re afraid we’ll have to part ways after we’ve graduated.”  That was all they would get.

“Mate,” Nott said, “I know you’ve really taken to Molly these past several months, but you had to have seen it coming.  You both are on different paths, only briefly meeting before parting ways again.”

“When did you become a poet,” Finn snapped at him.

“Stop avoiding the inevitable,” Nott continued.  “You should end it now before either of you end up more hurt than you already will be.  Besides, you could find a girl that’s a more suitable fit.”

“It’s already too late to go back,” Finn replied.

Avery whistled.  “Oh man, we’ve lost him to the point of no return.”

The point of no return was a saying the boys had come up with when they had first started dating girls back in their fourth year.  They would only use the saying if one of them had crossed over into the great beyond, nearer to the heaviness of that love squishiness.

“No,” Finn said, back tracking.  “You haven’t lost me.”

“And he’s clearly in denial, too.”

“Man, this is bad,” Nott said.  “We’ve lost Harper, the one we felt sure would never cross over while still at Hogwarts.”

“Clearly we need to keep better watch on him,” Avery commented.  “Especially since he has apparently become accustomed to denying what he really feels.  Stubborn, he is.”

Finn rolled his eyes.  He clearly was not lost as he knew exactly how he felt about Molly.  His friends may mean something else entirely, but he thought he could not have been more alert to what was happening with him and Molly.

Then just when he thought his friends had given up on trying to persuade him of how truly gone he was they started up again.  Tiring of their conversation over him, Finn decided to call it a night and head up to bed.  Though, instead of going to bed when he entered the empty dormitory, he wrote a note and transported it to Molly with a single wave of his wand; he was rather crafty at communication spells.

The note he had sent her was nothing of an upsetting nature.  It was more along the lines of inquiring whether she cared to meet up atop the roof of the Ravenclaw Tower for a late night rendezvous.  Her response came back within several minutes of waiting: Yes, meet you there in a few.

He punched the air in triumphant before realising he would have to walk through the common room, thus his friends possibly stopping him.  He really did not want to talk with his friends anymore that evening.  But how could he escape without them seeing him?  There was no other way.  He had no other option but to walk past them and hope he was able to escape unscathed from them.

Crossing the dorm room, Finn left and headed back down toward the common room and walked straight through, praying his friends would leave him alone.  He could still hear them speaking, but they had yet to notice his return as he sidled to the door and listened in on what they were talking about.  He froze right beside the portal when he heard his name, realising then they were still speaking about him; despite the fact he was no longer sitting before the fire place in the chaise, leather armchairs with them.

“Harper needs to figure out what he wants to do,” he heard Avery say, his back to his friends as he was facing the portal.  “If he really cares about Molly, then he’d end it now before the both of them end up more hurt when they finally say goodbye.  He said himself, he and Molly want different things; they’re on completely different life tracks.”

“I get what you’re saying, I do,” he listened as Nott put in his Sickles worth.  “But honestly, I think Harper could make it work with Molly if he really wanted it to.  I see the way he is when she’s around and the mate really fancies her; and what’s more, she fancies him as much back.  If anyone can make it work, they can.”

“If I’m being honest, I think Harper will get bored after so long with Molly,” Avery said, Finn feeling his fists clench defensively.

“What makes you say that?”  Nott testily retorted.  “You haven’t known him as long as I have; I’ve been mates with Harper since we were tots, I think I know him a bit more than you do.”

Finn hated listening to his friends fight like they were, but at the same time Molly was waiting for him.  He could not keep her waiting for much longer.  While at the same time his feet refused to cooperate with his brain, remaining firmly in place as the arguing carried on right behind him with his friends still unaware of his presence feet away.

“I thought Harper liked Molly,” Goyle spoke up, causing Finn to bite his lip from bursting out with a laugh.  Leave it to Goyle to remain clueless in anything being discussed, the boy really was hopeless.  “Why would he break things off with her?”

“Because Goyle,” Avery said, sounding annoyed, “he can’t be with her forever.  They are on different paths, as I’ve been saying for the last hour.”

“And I’m saying,” Nott said, getting more annoyed with Avery by the sounds of it, “I’m quite positive I know Harper a tad more than you do, Avery, and I’m sure he won’t break things off with Molly even when they have to part ways.  He’ll want to try long distance at first to see if they can pull it off before deciding anything.”

Finn felt a sudden sense of loyalty for Nott.  He and Nott had their differences, but when it came down to it they always had each other’s backs whenever either needed it.  It was with that final thought stuck in his mind that Finn finally exited through the portal into the dungeon corridor and made his way up toward the Ravenclaw Tower.  He did not want to keep Molly waited any longer than he already had.

Though, when he arrived, it was to find the top of the tower to be void of people, or so he thought upon first glance.  It was several moments later that he noticed Molly sitting down against the curve of the wall that rose up toward the left of the door that led back into the castle; he had turned to go back through when he discovered her.

“There you are,” Finn said, sighing in relief.  “Couldn’t see you at first; thought for sure you had stood me up.”

“Me stand you up,” Molly replied.  “I thought you had stood me up, playing some kind of cruel joke on me.”

“I wouldn’t dare,” Finn said, squatting down before Molly with his elbows resting on his knees.

“What took you so long?”

Finn sighed.  “Overheard my friends talking about me and it made my ears burn, had to listen.”

“What were they saying?”  Molly asked.  “Or you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to, I understand.”

“It’s alright,” Finn replied.  “They were talking about the same thing they were trying to convince me of before I left them for the dorm, which was about our relationship and how we’re moving in different directions.  They think we should break up now before we have to part.”

“Oh,” Molly said softly.  “I see.”

“Yeah, well, I told them I had no intention of breaking up with you earlier, so they had right to talk behind my back like they’re doing.”

“But they are right, you know,” Molly said, frowning.  “We’re not moving together, but rather away from each other.  It’s like we discussed the other night.  You didn’t tell your friends about that, did you?”

“Only that we discussed it, but nothing specific.  It’s our business, not theirs.”

Molly nodded, as though in approval for his response.  He did not need her approval and felt resentful toward her for it.  Then he hated himself for resenting her when he had probably taken her nodding the wrong way.

“You seem... different tonight,” Molly said as she met his eyes.  “What’s the matter?”

“Nothing,” Finn replied, plopping down on his butt while still facing her.  He reached forward and grabbed her hands with his own.  “I’m just frustrated with my friends is all; a couple of them seem to think I should dump you, while Nott is the only one who is on my side.”

“Well that’s stupid,” Molly replied.  “They should keep their petty opinions to themselves.”

“My thoughts exactly,” Finn said.  “But it still isn’t stopping me from thinking about what it would be like if we did break up now, before we graduated and went our ways.”

“Are you saying you want to break up now?”  Molly asked, confused and hurt by what she was hearing, even if part of her thought it would be for the best to get it all over with now.

Finn backtracked.  “No, of course not, I’m only saying it’s hard to imagine even parting ways with you.  I wish we could stay together and weren’t studying for different job areas.”

“Well, I’ll make it easy for you,” Molly said, making to stand up before Finn pulled her back down into her sitting position in front of him.

“I’m sorry,” Finn said.  “I don’t want you to leave at all.”

“But that doesn’t change the fact that I very well might be,” Molly replied tersely. 

“Yes, but we can still be together until then.”

“Yes, I suppose,” Molly said.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”  Finn asked her.  He was already frustrated at his friends; he did not want to hear anything that might be doubts coming from Molly.  He had been expecting her to agree completely with him now, after their talk about it all a few nights ago.  Apparently he had thought wrong.

“Nothing, just that...,” her voice trailed off.

He did not like what he was hearing.  How was Molly doubting them; still?  He had thought he had convinced her they could try to make it all work already; though, he obviously had been mistaken.  Why does he even bother?  What’s the point anymore if all the odds were stacked up against them; constantly raising as to whether their relationship can wither through it all in the end?  What if they were destined to fail?  He hated to think so negatively, but Finn could not help it when Molly was doing the very same thing.

Finn continued to gaze at Molly, words failing him.  How dare she sit there before him, acting all doubtful and pessimistic about them?  Why was she giving up on them so soon?  Was it something he could have said to make her change her mind about him?  His mind was spinning with all the questions, barely able to comprehend it all into one coherent train of thought.  Could she even see what she was doing to him on the inside by looking at him in such a way as she was now?

“Finn, I’m sorry, I am,” Molly said, sounding strangely out of breath.  “But I don’t think we can carry on together like this.  It’s just not fair when I’ll more than likely move to another country to work as a Herbologist.”

Finn ran his fingers through his tousled brown hair, causing it to stand up in spikes as his hair poked out between his fingers.  “And I told you the other night; we can make it work if we really wanted it to.”  Why wasn’t she listening to him?  It was as though the words coming out of his mouth dissipated into thin air, hushing as the icy wind overtook it from atop the tower.

Molly smiled sadly, he wished she would not.  He wanted to see her happy smile, not one that revealed the end of them.  It was the most torturing move she could make.  That smile.  It ripped at his gut, attempting to push what he had eaten for dinner back up and out of his stomach.

They sat there in silence for what seemed like forever, Finn agonising over what Molly could be thinking about.  She was staring heavenward now, brow furrowed and frown formed on her pink lips.  He wished he could reach out and smooth out her furrow, but he was sure she would pull away from him.  There was so little space between them, yet she seemed eons away from him; completely out of his reach at that moment in time.

“I think I should head back to the common room,” Molly replied.  “I still need to finish writing an essay before I go to bed.”

He could not believe she had managed to speak over the stilted silence, and about turning in to boot.  All he wanted to do was to pull her into his arms and keep her tucked there forever.  But alas, that would get him nowhere with Molly.  In order to prove to her they were compatible and could wither any storm that tried to wreck them, he would need to keep her the space she needed then.  Even when keeping his distance would hurt; he had to give it to her in order for her to see how hasty, and wrong, the choice she was currently making at wanting to break things off with him.

“See you tomorrow?”

“Hmm,” Finn said, snapping into focus.  “Sure, see you tomorrow.”

It was just like that.  With a promise that sounded as empty as a bell jar, the pair headed back down the spiral staircase of the tower and parted at the foot as Molly lifted the knocker while he continued to walk away without a second glance.  He vaguely heard the musical chimes and muffled sing-song voice ask the riddle that Molly would surely answer quickly to gain entry into Ravenclaw Tower.  But the silence of the castle enveloped him the farther he walked away and down toward the dungeons to his own commons.

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