Chapter 1 : One Day Less
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“Coming to bed, Molly?”
Molly Weasley looked up into her husband’s eyes. “Not yet, Arthur.”
“Okay,” he said gently, bending to kiss her forehead. “Don’t stay up too late.” His voice held that combination of worry, pain, and tenderness it always had when he spoke to Molly lately.
“I won’t,” she murmured, turning back toward the fire, a cold mug of tea clutched in her hands. Molly, once plump and cheerful was now thin and silent. Her pale face hardly ever formed a smile.
“Goodnight,” Arthur said softly as he headed toward the stairs. Molly didn’t respond. Arthur was almost across the room when he turned back to face his wife. “And Molly?”
“I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
After Arthur had disappeared upstairs, Molly leaned back in her chair and shut her eyes. Hot tears made slow tracks across her cheeks and into her once beautiful, but now dull and matted red hair.
She sat upright, wiping the moisture from her eyes. “Ginny?” she gasped. Silence. Of course. Ginny wasn’t really there, she couldn’t be. She was never there. It was never real.
Slowly Molly stood up and crossed the room with tired, silent steps. She tugged a heavy book down from its shelf and pulled out the Daily Prophet clippings she’d hidden there. After settling back into her chair, she placed the three obituaries side by side in her lap, Fred’s, Ron’s and Ginny’s. All three smiled out at her. Ron waved while Ginny blew a kiss and Fred made a funny face. They looked so perfect, yet so ordinary, like they had every day of their short lives.
Molly’s tears fell faster now, her sobs choked her. She slid out of her chair and collapsed on her knees. It hurt; she could almost feel the blood vessels break to form the bruises she knew would form. But she didn’t care; she enjoyed the pain. No physical pain could compare to the pain she felt in her heart but the comparison distracted her, if only for a moment.
She knelt on the hard floor, head in her hands as the sobs wracked her frail body.
"Why?" she choked through her sobs. “Why?” As she knelt there, her thoughts went slowly back to that horrible day…
The day of what would be the final battle dawned bright and sunny. There was no omen in the weather that day. It was a Saturday and Molly and Arthur slept late. When they finally rose, Molly made them a hearty breakfast of eggs and bacon. While Arthur did some reading for work, Molly wrote long letters to Ron and Ginny at Hogwarts. She smiled to herself thinking of how Ron, Harry, and Hermione had decided to go back. Harry had finally told the Order about the Horcruxes and the members were constantly searching. They’d found all but one.
Be careful, Ronnie she wrote, I know you want to help find the last Horcrux, but please, I’m begging you, be very careful.
As she released Pig, who would carry the letters to Hogwarts, she smiled all the more, thinking of her children.
Now she knew the letters would never be received. But then, she knew nothing of the tragedies to come. She was laughing and smiling as she went to make some lunch for Arthur.
Now, in her the darkness of her kitchen, Molly stood shakily and stumbled to the window, where she leaned her head on the cool glass. Tears continued to slide down her cheeks. Harshly, she brought a hand to her face. She didn’t want to think about the rest of that day. But her memories overpowered her desire to forget…
Molly and Arthur were eating their supper that night when a panicked face appeared in the fireplace.
“Molly, Arthur!” It was Tonks, looking horrified.
They rushed to kneel by the hearth. “What is it, Nymphadora?” Molly gasped. Her heart was pounding in her chest, slamming against her ribs.
“Hurry!” Tonks cried. “You must get to Hogwarts right away. The school is being attacked by Death Eaters!”
Arthur’s face went pale and Molly screamed. She was still screaming as Arthur grabbed her hand to help her apparate to Hogwarts.
When they arrived, the battle was raging on the grounds and in the castle. Arthur kissed Molly desperately.
“I love you!” he cried.
She clung to his chest. “Arthur!” She was scared, so very scared she might never see him again.
He kissed her again and rushed into battle. After taking a moment to collect herself, Molly did the same.
Molly wiped her tears and walked aimlessly up the stairs to Ron’s room, where she sat on his bed, hugging his pillow to her chest. Her tears had stopped. She felt so empty. The silence of the house was so heavy, it threatened to crush her.
So much of the battle was a blur to her. She’d fought hard, that she knew. And she’d seen Harry finish off Voldemort. Somehow, somewhere, the last Horcrux had been found. Voldemort was dead. She remembered running to embrace Harry as everyone celebrated around them. Molly’s elation was short-lived, however…
“Molly…” a voice said softly. It was Minerva McGonagall, pointing toward the Forbidden Forest. Hagrid was walking toward them, carrying a limp form. Ginny.
A strangled sob escaped Molly’s chest. “No…” Her heart was breaking into a million little pieces.
“Oh, Molly, I’m so sorry,” Minerva said gently, touching her arm. Her normally strict expression was replaced with a look filled with pain and sympathy.
Forgetting any sort of restraint, Molly collapsed in the professor’s arms. Minerva patted her back gently and rocked her back and forth. “Oh, Molly, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Oh, Molly,” she murmured over and over.
Molly looked up to see Harry, tears streaming from his emerald eyes. He reached for her hand and led her to where Hagrid had laid Ginny’s body. Together they knelt at her side. Harry slowly stroked her red hair back from her forehead. Molly just stared at Ginny’s pale, unmoving face. Her daughter, her little baby girl, was dead.
“Oh, Ginny,” Molly moaned, laying her head on Ginny’s chest. “Ginny!”
Molly’s tears flowed again. She lay on Ron’s bed, sobs wracking body. The memories were so fresh and the pain never went away. After Hagrid had brought Ginny back, George and Charlie had shown up bringing Fred. The sight of George lugging his twin’s dead body unwound her completely. And then, when Molly thought her pain could not get worse, Neville and Hermione came together, carrying Ron...
“Oh, Mrs. Weasely!” Hermione said with a sob, flinging herself into Molly’s arms. Molly rocked the distraught girl though she herself was shaking with sobs. Wails stabbed at the night as students, teachers, and Order members found the remains of their loved ones.
At last, those who were able picked up the fallen to carry them back to the castle. Molly did not follow. She simply stood in the moonlight and stared at the lake. The pain was rising in her chest. With each second she thought it could not possibly grow any worse, but it did. Her pain swelled and rose until she collapsed on the hard ground with a heart-wrenching scream.
Molly flung Ron’s pillow against the wall, listening to the dull thump it made. She curled into a ball and sobbed into her knees. Her pain filled her chest, filled the room. It swelled until it seemed to take over the entire house.
“Ron, Ron!” she gasped. “How can you be gone? You were my little baby boy, my littlest son…”
“Come to Mummy, Ron!” Molly crooned.
One-year-old Ron eyed his mother from his place on the rug.
“You can do it, Ronnie!”
Ron shook his head, his face stubborn.
“Ronnie, please come to Mommy!” Molly said, arms outstretched. “You can do it, Ron, I know you can. Stand up, just like I showed you.”
“Any luck?” a voice asked from the doorway.
Molly turned. “Not yet, Arthur.”
Arthur laughed and walked over to his little son. “Come on, son,” he said, taking Ron’s hands to help him stand. “Now let’s walk to Mummy!”
“No,” Ron said, using one of his few words.
Molly rolled her eyes and flopped back on the rug. “I give up.”
Arthur sat down beside her, pulling her against his chest.
He grinned and kissed her firmly on the lips. When they broke apart, Molly eyed him.
“You don’t need to convince ME to walk, Arthur,” she said chuckling. “I know how already…”
Arthur cut her off with a gasp. “Molly, look! Ron….he’s walking!”
Molly sat up fast. Ron was toddling toward them with careful but steady steps. When he reached them, he hugged Molly hard.
“Kiss,” he said petulantly.
Arthur laughed as Molly planted a kiss on their son’s forehead. “Jealous, eh?” he asked.
Molly laughed too and kissed Ron again. “No need to be jealous, Ronnie,” she said, “I love you best anyway.”
Molly smiled through her tears at the memory. At the time she’d never been so proud. That was before Ron was admitted to Hogwarts, received his O.W.L results…and before he died. Yes, she’d been proud of him, proud of all of them, even then…
“Today is a sad day,” Minerva McGonagall said to the crowd gathered for the funeral, “a very sad day. My heart goes to the Weasley family during their time of heartache.”
Molly stifled a sob and Arthur squeezed her hand. On her other side, George wrapped an arm around her shoulders. Molly glanced at him to see tears pouring down his face.
“But,” Minerva continued, “it should also be a proud day. Molly and Arthur,” she said, turning to them, “you should be so proud of what your children did. Fred, Ron, and Ginny Weasley died for a cause greater than any other. They died to save us all. I am so proud to have known them.” The normally stiff Transfiguration teacher paused to wipe the tears from her eyes. “Death leaves a heartache no one can steal,” she said, tears sliding down her lined face. “We all are mourning the loss of these three incredible young people. Only time can heal the pain we are all feeling, but I hope we can also remember the happy times. I hope we can remember Fred’s practical jokes, Ron’s loyalty, Ginny’s smile. And their bravery. I hope we can all remember how brave they were, as true Gryfindors should be.” She smiled sadly at Molly and Arthur and their remaining children. “Thank you for allowing me to speak today, Arthur and Molly. It was an honor only topped by the honor of knowing your amazing children.”
Sobbing, Molly stepped over Arthur and Charlie’s knees to hug Minerva as she made her way back to her seat. The two held each other for a long moment.
As Molly sat back down, there was a blast of golden light and in place of the three silver tombs were now three enormous headstones. And the hundreds of Witches and Wizards gathered for the funeral began to sing a beautiful song about bravery and gratitude.And Molly was prouder than she’d ever been. She only wished they could have done something else to make her proud, and still be alive with her.
No pride was worth her loss.
Molly was empty of tears. She no longer cried, she simply trembled as she made her way down the hall to her own bedroom. As she passed Ginny’s room, she couldn’t help peeking in like she did countless nights of her daughter’s childhood…
“Mum? Is that you?”
“Yes, darling, did I wake you?”
“No. I was awake anyway,” 11 year old Ginny whispered. “I’m so nervous about tomorrow. What if Hogwarts decides they don’t want me after all?”
Molly smiled in the darkness and sat on the edge of Ginny’s bed. “Don’t worry about that, dear,” she said softly, brushing a lock of flame-red hair from the girl’s cheek.
Ginny laid her head on Molly’s shoulder. “Are you sure?”
Molly nodded, pulling the girl into a hug. “I’m sure, darling, I’m very sure. You’re so smart and sweet, everyone will just love you.”
The little girl sighed softly. “Thanks, Mum.”
“You’re welcome, sweetie,” Molly murmured, kissing her daughter’s cheek. “Can you sleep now?”
Ginny nodded. “Yeah, she whispered.
“I love you, honey.”
“I love you too Mum.”
Molly kicked the leg of Ginny’s bed, hard. She kicked it again. And again. She enjoyed the ache it sent through her toes.
“My daughter, my only daughter!” she gasped brokenly.
Molly Weasley had always been vibrant and joyful. She’d loved life and everything it brought. Now she wanted to die. Facing each new day was almost more than she could bear. And no one understood.
“Molly,” Arthur had pleaded just the day before, “please, I know it hurts, but we have four other children who need you!”
“Mum!” George had said, pain filling his voice. “Mum, please talk to us.”
“Mum…” Percy had choked.
“Molly, I’m begging you, please…”
With a moan, Molly collapsed to the floor and shook. She banged a fist against Ginny’s rug. Minutes melted together. She didn’t know how long she lay there.
Mum, Mum! Save me Mum!
She sat up fast and hard. “Ron!” she cried, her voice echoing in the empty house. She struggled to her feet and staggered across the hall to Ron’s vacant room. “Ron?”
No one. There was no one there. Ron was gone. Gone…
Haha, gotcha, Mum!
Molly whirled. “Fred?”
No one, but her son’s laughter still echoed in her head.
She couldn’t save them. When they needed her most, she couldn’t save them. And now they were gone.
They couldn’t make her laugh, they couldn’t say “I love you, Mum!” They were gone…
“NO!” Molly screamed. “No!” New sobs tore through her as she sagged against the wall. “Please, please come back!”
“Molly?” Arthur stood in the doorway, taking in his wife’s desperate state. “Oh, Molly.” Fighting his own tears, Arthur took the sobbing, trembling Molly in his arms and cradled her.
“Arthur…kill me please, please let me die…”
“Shhhh,” he soothed. “Hush, darling, it’s going to be okay.”
Molly’s sobs slowly turned to whimpers. “It hurts so much, Arthur…”
“I know,” he said gently, leading her slowly to their bedroom and helping her under the covers. “I know it hurts, darling, I know,” he continued, lying down beside her. “Hush now.” Gently, he stroked her hair until she at last drifted off to sleep. Only then, with Molly still enfolded in his arms, did Arthur fall asleep himself.
Hours later, Molly awoke. Painfully, she got out of bed and dressed. As she moved down the stairs, she steeled herself to face yet another day.
One day less now, she told herself. One day less until I die and see them again.
A/N: Hope you liked it. I wanted to respond to HPromanticxxx's challenge and this is what came out of my brain. Thanks again for an awesome challenge, HPromantic!