Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others. Ė Robert Lewis Stevenson
Heís not always heartless, not always cold-iron fists and paranoia buried deep in his subconscious. It comes with the territory, he supposes, with years of duels chronicled in the calluses of his hands and in the scars that mark his body.
Someone has to do it, he reminds himself. Because the young ones, sometimes theyíre too rash, too brave and they only half-understand what it means to be careful, to make sure they come home to their loved ones.
Sometimes he has to let down his rough exterior and speak in hushed tones (theyíll be back soon, donít you worry) because he knows that worrying just makes the waiting harder. And he knows all about waiting, knows about sitting up late with cold coffee (black, no sugar) and trying to fight an anxious tension that hums through his veins.
He waits for them each night as they tumble into headquarters weary and beaten down, but not yet broken. He wishes that their spirits are never broken. Thatís one of the few times heíll get down on his knees and pray, because he doesnít believe in God, or any higher being. He thinks that sometimes he should, because luck will only get him so far. Perhaps he should invest in some faith or hope because itís the only way heís going to get out of this war alive.
Heís no stranger to worry either; Dumbledore likes to keep him on the sidelines Ė his skills, his instinct too valuable to give up too easily Ė heís needed to train future Aurors, Order members, soldiers in a war where half of them are too young to even understand what theyíre fighting for.
He wishes that their lives werenít precious and fragile, so easy to surrender. But he knows that itís a part of war and itís something they should all get used to, because he can no longer count the number of casualties on one hand.
He feels slightly guilty (in this line of duty, he thinks he should feel more guilt for the things heís done) for sending Molly out of her motherís kitchen, but itís not her time yet Ė her belly is too round, too full of baby (babies, if her size is any indication) to risk dragging her into something this big.
"Weíre sorry, Molly," Fabian is saying, a hand resting reassuringly on the small of her back, helping her shuffle out of the kitchen.
Moody puts a protection spell on the kitchen as he peeks out of the window suspiciously.
"If my dinner burns while youíre in there talking, you will have something to apologise for," he hears Molly threaten, blowing curly hair out of her sweaty, rounded face.
Fabian smiles and kisses the back of her head before shutting the door behind her. He performs a Silencing Charm and turns back to face the quirked eyebrow of his brother. He shrugs sheepishly.
"Just in case," he mumbles. "Bill and Charlie are running around upstairs."
"Smart thinking, boy," Moody growls. "Precisely why we need people like you."
"For what?" Gideon questions as he rubs a thumb anxiously across his cheekbone.
Moody looks at the both of them with steady eyes, slips an even steadier hand into his pocket and pulling out a clenched fist, seeks comfort in the glide of smooth gold along his palm.
"Wars canít be won if there isnít anyone willing to fight them."
"You know we do what we can, Moody," Fabian argues. "But the Ministry wonít even acknowledge the fact that there is a war going on."
Moody huffs in agreement, but now is not the time to talk politics; he has more important matters to address. He looks expectantly at the two wizards before him and lowers his voice. "The two of you are some of the best wizards around Ė " Gideon grins at the compliment and Fabian looks pleased. " Ė and we need men like you for something secret, something dangerous."
The two young men lean forward, their hardened eyes telling Moody all he needs to know. He opens his hand to reveal two identical, golden pins and Gideon reaches forward without a secondís hesitation.
"Itís a phoenix," he murmurs, his thumb brushing along the grooves of the phoenixís wing.
"Dumbledore?" Fabian asks as he too fondles the phoenix between his fingers.
Moody nods. "Iím sure youíve read the Prophet and discovered the sudden influx of Death Eaters being apprehended by Aurors."
"Does that have to do with Ė with this?" Gideon questions, laying the pin down on the worn table.
"Dumbledore, like you, was tired of the lack of action by the Ministry. The Order of the Phoenix was organized to fight back against You-Know-Who."
"Who else is involved? Just Aurors and those you decide are worthy enough?" Fabian leans back in his chair, keeps a careful eye on the door, on Mollyís dinner (her anger frightens him more than the prospect of fighting, of the war).
"No, no. Weíre drawing in all we can for this. Strength in numbers, in diversity."
Gideon bites the skin around his thumb. "What Ďbout Molly? You canít keep anything from her."
Moody growls. "You better try damn hard. Itís not her time, not yet. You mustnít talk about any of this business unless youíre in a room of strictly Order members and certain precautions have been taken."
Fabianís eyes widen. "Moody, you canít possibly expect to ask Molly to join," he hisses. "Sheís got three young boys and at least one more on the way. Thereís too much at stake, too much to sacrifice to ask that of her."
"Sacrifices must be made," Moody barks. "It will be Mollyís choice, just like itís your choice. No oneís forcing you into this, but we do need you."
Gideon clenches his fist around the pin as he says, "Iím in. Iím willing to do anything to keep Molly and her boys safe."
Fabian sighs and rubs a hand wearily down his face. "Me too," he agrees quietly.
The scraping of the chair is harsh on their ears as Moody pushes back to stand up. Fabian and Gideon stand as well and Moody grips both of their hands.
"Youíre doing this world a favour, the both of you," Moody says, proud of their decision. He sticks his hand into his pocket once more and pulls out a folded piece of parchment, which he presses into Gideonís hand. "Donít ever speak that address out loud. Next Wednesday night, you will make your way there and before you enter, make sure you burn that piece of paper. Memorise that address and never forget it for it will never be spoken of."
The two men nod. "Thank you, Moody," Gideon says. "We wonít let you down."
"Iíll see you Wednesday night, then," Moody replies as he moves toward the kitchen door, opening it slightly.
Molly is on the door as soon as she hears it creak open, fretting anxiously about her dinner.
"Will you be staying, Alastor?" she asks politely.
"No, thank you, Molly, I have some other business to attend to. Iíll be seeing you soon," he says, giving a slight wave as he leaves the Prewett household.
Molly turns on her brothers as soon as the door shuts behind Moody. "What was that all about?"
Gideon places a comforting hand on his sisterís arm and kisses her gently on the forehead. "Nothing you should worry yourself with, Molls."
He leaves the kitchen as soon as he can, quick to avoid any more questions. Fabian isnít so lucky.
A sudden crash from upstairs distracts her and Fabian takes the opportunity to bolt out of the kitchen.
"Donít worry, Molly, Iíll go get your boys out of trouble. Donít let the dinner burn!" he calls as he runs up the stairs.
"Boys," Molly huffs as she places a soothing hand on her rounded belly, keeping a careful eye on the boiling pot.
Author's Note: Thanks to my fabulous beta, TenthWeasley, for editing this chapter!
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