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Chapter 30: Oh, Maker
So much hurt on this earth
But you loved me, and I really dared to love you too
Perhaps what I mean to say
Is that it's amazing that your love was mine
Oh, Maker – Janelle Monae
Araminta drew a deep breath, before nervously knocking on the door.
A minute or two passed before it opened, and Arthur Weasley’s weary-looking face peered through the crack.
“Declare yourself!” he said nervously.
“I’m Araminta Gamp-” she began, before falling silent. “You ... you don’t know enough about me for me to be able to prove who I am.” She swallowed. “Um ... You are Arthur Weasley, married to Molly Weasley née Prewett-” she nearly stumbled over the name, but carried on – “you have seven children; William, age ten, Charlie, age eight, Percy, age five, Fred and George, twins, age three, Ronald, age one, and Ginevra Molly, born in August, the first Weasley girl in generations-”
“Okay, I believe you.” He smiled slightly. “I – I don’t really think now is the best time to visit-”
“I know, but I wanted to see Molly.”
“She’s not holding up too well,” he warned, as he pulled the door open. “I’m surprised,” he added, as she crossed the threshold, “that you remember all of our children’s names and ages. I struggle sometimes.”
She tried – and failed – to raise a smile.
“I have a good memory,” she said quietly.
Molly was sitting in the living room, surrounded by photos.
“Someone here to see you, love,” Arthur said gently.
He left them to it, closing the door quietly behind him.
Molly looked up from the photos, and let out the tiniest of gasps.
“Araminta...” she said quietly. “I ... I was just looking through the family albums ... they always were a troublesome pair, you know ... I guess that’s where Fred and George get it from...”
She got to her feet.
“Would you like a cup of tea?”
Araminta wasn’t necessarily in the mood for tea, but she didn’t object, not wanting to upset Molly further. She followed the older woman into the kitchen, and took a seat at the table as Molly busied herself with the teapot. The pot rattled against the lid as her hands shook.
“I always knew this might happen,” she said thickly, standing against the stove with her back to Araminta. “I’m no fool, I knew what danger they were in. I guess in a way they were lucky to live so long, given that poor Louisa and Marlene – oh!”
There was an almighty smash as Molly dropped the lid, and it fell to the floor, shattering into hundreds of pieces.
“Here, let me-”
Araminta got to her feet, as Molly dissolved into hysterical tears.
Araminta dashed round the table and awkwardly put an arm round Molly’s shoulders, pulling out the nearest chair for her to sit in. She sank into an adjacent chair, and wrapped both arms round Molly as she sobbed into her shoulder. Soon she couldn’t tell which tears were Molly’s and which were her own.
“You really meant something to him, you know,” Molly said thickly, taking Araminta’s free hand in hers. With her other hand, she clumsily took a sip of the tea she’d made.
“He really withdrew into himself when Louisa died, but you ... you put the life back into him again, and I can’t thank you enough for that. Without you, I doubt he’d have coped with Marlene’s death in the way he did, and it would have been so sad if he hadn’t lived to see his little niece.” Her voice cracked; Araminta squeezed her hand comfortingly, and she continued. “I think he loved you, dear, I really do. And after all you did for him, all you did to help him, I can’t think of anyone who deserved that love more.”
Araminta looked down into her teacup guiltily, thinking of all the arguments she and Gideon had had, and how she’d deceived him so cruelly when she’d been an active Death Eater.
“I don’t think I deserved it.” Her voice was almost a whisper.
Molly frowned slightly
“Don’t be silly, dear, why on earth wouldn’t you have deserved it?”
But she didn’t know. Of course she didn’t. And she couldn’t know, not even now that Araminta had well and truly walked away from it all. The betrayal would surely break her heart.
Araminta closed her eyes, forcing back the tears.
“I never loved anybody before I met Gideon,” she said quietly. “But he ... he saw something in me that nobody else, not even I, could see. And that-” She swallowed the lump in her throat. “Your brothers were wonderful people.” She looked back up at Molly. “I really feel honoured to have known them.”
“As do I,” Molly murmured in response.
Araminta suddenly remembered why she’d come. She plunged her hand into her pocket, and pulled out a slightly dented watch.
“This was Fabian’s,” she said, sliding it across the table. “He ... he was wearing it when ... I think he’d want you to have it.”
Molly picked up the watch, and smiled fondly.
“He always was careless with his things,” she said, running her thumb across the dent.
She looked up and met Araminta’s gaze; the younger woman waited in trepidation for the question she’d been dreading, the one she knew not how to reply to – but Molly, with an understanding only two women united by grief could share, merely smiled, and squeezed her hand again.
It was funny, Araminta mused to herself, as her other hand found Gideon’s watch in her robes pocket, how two people like her and Gideon, so alike yet so different, one of them scared of love, the other unaware of it, could have become so dependent upon one another. Yet, in a way, it made sense ... he had taught her how to open her heart, how to love, how to tell the difference between right and wrong, and she had helped him accept his grief and his losses and move on, to keep fighting.
And in return, I shall keep fighting, for you, she thought as she closed her eyes. Even when all I want to do is curl up in a ball and shut out the world, I’ll keep fighting. For you, for Fabian, for Marlene, for Arieda, and for everyone else who has given their lives for this war. I promise you that.
It’s the least you deserve.