Courage is more exhilarating than fear and in the long run it is easier. We do not have to become heroes over night. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down. – Eleanor Roosevelt
She has five young boys sleeping upstairs, but as she opens the door to her house to reveal one of her brothers, sometimes she thinks that she has seven.
"Gideon," she murmurs, ushering him into the house, peering cautiously outside into the inky darkness before closing the door behind them.
"Hey Molls," Gideon gasps in reply, wincing in pain. "I knew I could rely on you to patch me up."
"Where’s Fabian?" she asks urgently, placing a bracing hand on his side, his arm – tries to touch him everywhere to reassure herself that he’s safe, he’s home.
Gideon groans. "We got separated. He’ll show up soon enough, I’m sure."
She sits him down at the kitchen table. Her hand pulls away and she inhales sharply as she feels the sticky warmth of blood covering her fingers.
"What did you do?" she hisses through tears, through her anger. Her hands are trembling as she performs a cleaning charm on her hands and pulls Gideon’s shirt off. "Are you…do you have a death wish, Gideon?"
"You know I enjoy spending quality time with you, Molls."
Molly presses down on his side with a towel, hard. Gideon grunts.
"Just heal me up with a quick spell. No need to cause me anymore damage," Gideon spits out through gritted teeth.
Molly glares at him. "Gideon Prewett! How dare you – how dare you walk into my home injured like this and act so casual about it? What are you doing that’s so dangerous? I swear if you put this family in harm’s way…"
Gideon reaches out and pulls his sister towards him, pressing a kiss into her hair. "Hush, Molly. Stop worrying so much. I know what I’m doing."
Molly snorts but doesn’t say anything. Instead she raises her wand, still shaking slightly, and whispers a spell to staunch the bleeding. She bites her lip as her mind goes through a list of spells she learned from her mother to heal the wound across Gideon’s abdomen.
There’s a loud, harsh knock at the door. Gideon looks towards the door and gets up, moving to stand in the shadows that outline the dim kitchen.
"Who is it?" Molly calls, her fingers wrapped tightly around the doorknob.
"It’s Fabian," a voice mutters.
Molly twists the doorknob hard and pulls the door open quickly, enveloping her brother in a hug. He hisses in pain.
Molly shuts the door and locks it before turning back to her injured brothers. "Where are you hurt?" she asks Fabian as she pushes him into a chair. Gideon moves out of the shadows, nods at his brother and sits back down.
She shakes her head, muttering to herself about stupid, careless boys as she goes about healing their wounds. There’s silence for a few moments until a loud creak from the stairs causes the three adults to jump. Molly’s eyes dart towards the source of the sound and her lips flatten into a thin line.
"Go back to bed, Charlie," Molly says, hurrying over to bustle Charlie back upstairs.
"But Mum, what’s wrong with Uncle Gideon and Uncle Fabian?" Charlie asks curiously, peering around his mother’s large frame to look at his grimacing uncles.
"Back to bed!" Molly orders, her face going slightly red.
Charlie gulps, knows well enough to not test his mother’s infamous temper and hurries back upstairs to his room. Molly sighs heavily and rubs her eyes wearily, turning back to her brothers.
"I’m sorry, Molly," Fabian is saying before she can even open her mouth. "But we can’t tell you anything."
"Stop babying me, Fabian," Molly says, raising her voice slightly. "You’re putting yourselves in danger, and for what? Stop keeping secrets from me."
Gideon stands and pulls his shirt back on, but not before examining the fresh skin that lines his abdomen – not a sign of the injuries he received that night evident on his tired body. "Look, it’s not that we don’t want to tell you anything, Molls, but it’s not your time yet. You’ll…you’ll know what to do when the time comes. As to why we’re putting ourselves in dangers and for what? It’s for you, Molly. To keep you safe, to keep your family safe. Trust us, okay?"
"You can’t keep coming back here injured like this," Molly replies, shaking her head and wiping away tears. "You need to keep yourselves safe."
Fabian pulls Molly into his arms and speaks in a low, soothing tone. "Don’t worry, Molly. We’ll stay safe, I promise. Thank you…for everything you’ve done." His arms are strong and hold her tightly, reassuring her of his presence, giving strength, a foundation to his promise.
Molly grabs Gideon’s hand and squeezes it. "Promise me?"
Gideon smiles in a way that makes most women swoon, but this time, it’s to calm his frantic sister. "I promise, Molly."
Molly smiles careful and guarded as she ushers her two brothers out the front door where they Apparate quickly and right after one another. She shuts the door and rests her head against the door frame.
"Stay safe," she murmurs. She looks down at her trembling hands and though they’re clean, she won’t (she can’t) forget the way that blood (her brothers’) stains red; too bright, too full of life.
Molly slams the kettle down on the stove too hard and it clanks loudly, the sound reverberating in her small kitchen.
"Don’t ask that of me," she says harshly, her back turned to the three men sitting at her table.
"Molly…" It’s Fabian. It’s always Fabian trying to reassure her, quiet her anger.
"No." Her voice is firm – it doesn’t shake like her hands, like the nerve endings, the hormones sending desperate signals to her muscles to run, to get out of this situation she’s so suddenly been placed in. Fight or flight. But in her heart, she knows she’d rather go down fighting.
"You wanted us to tell you what we’ve been doing." Gideon, now. He wasn’t one for apologies or sympathy.
Molly turns around now to face her brothers, to face the man that dragged them into this mess.
"You," she hisses, pointing an accusing finger at Alastor Moody. "You forced them into this."
She’s angry now. Her brothers had yet to see her full-blown anger these past few weeks (it’s been nothing but quiet desperation and worry) but it's rearing its ugly head like a livid Hungarian Horntail, ready to spit fire; there’s hatred in the words that are spilling from her mouth.
"It was their choice," Alastor replies, calm and steady.
"It was their choice to go off and get themselves killed?" she retorts bitterly, in disbelief.
"We did it to protect you, Molly," Fabian says gently. "You know that. We told you weeks ago."
"You also promised me you’d stay safe, Fabian," she growls. "And then you show up not two weeks later with so – there was so much blood." She’s quiet now and there are tears caught in her lashes, blurring her vision.
"Think of your boys, Molls," Gideon implores. "Think of the world they’ll be forced to live in if we lose this war, if they survive."
Molly whimpers, clenches her fingers tightly on the apron tied around her waist. Moody stands stiffly and rummages through his pocket, before holding out a hand to her.
"Please, Molly," Moody is saying, and it’s the only time she’ll ever hear him this quiet, this pleading.
She dabs at her eyes with the corner of her apron and then reaches forward, picking up the pin between her forefinger and thumb. The pad of her thumb rolls over the grooves in the furled wings of the phoenix and she sighs in resignation.
Her heart beats steadily in her chest, and that ‘fight or flight’ response that makes her nerves thrum anxiously and her hands shake…it’s gone now. There’s no other option, Molly thinks, as she stares at the pin gleaming in her hand. There’s no turning back.
Author's Note: Thanks to TenthWeasley for beta'ing!
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