A/N: Second chapter! I hope you all enjoy this one, as there’s a bit more humor (hopefully). Please feel free to review (which means I’m desperate for them). Read on!
Molly had never before been to the house, but she’d seen it in photos and knew where she was going. When she arrived in Arthur’s yard, she stared up at the tall, shabby old home for a full minute, heart racing. Her head hurt dreadfully, but whether that was from her recent decision to flee or from the tight hairpins still in her hair, she did not know. Finally—because her feet were freezing—she headed for the door and knocked.
She wondered briefly if they had even heard her over the cacophony inside—“That’s my shoe, Alan! Give it back!”—but then she could make out the tired voice of Mrs. Weasley shouting above the racket, “Will someone please get the door?”
There was a scrambling from the other side, as well as more bickering over whose turn it was to answer, but finally, finally, the door opened. A small freckly boy who could not be over five stood there, staring curiously at her.
“Hey!” he yelled over his shoulder. “It’s a girl!”
“A girl, did you say, Ahab?” his mother asked, her voice growing louder as she approached. Molly’s heart rate increased even more as she wondered what this kind woman would think of her after her mother’s speech at the platform that evening.
“Yeah, a lady. It looks like she came from a gala.”
“A gala, Ahab? Who taught you—ouch! Aaron, move your cauldron!”
“Abe taught me it, Mummy. The girl’s not wearing shoes.”
“Neither am I,” came another boy’s voice from somewhere in the depths of the home, “because Alan stole mine!”
“That’s nice, Alfred,” Mrs. Weasley said, finally coming into view, her hair falling out of its bun, a laundry basket glued to her right hip, and a redheaded baby glued to her left, waddling slightly as she was heavily pregnant with her tenth child. “Ahab, dear, move out of the way of the door.”
The little boy ducked dutifully away just as a crash emitted from the other side of the house and one voice cried, “Adlai, watch out!”
Another chastised, “Aaron, don’t yell at him; he’s only a little kid.”
“Stuff it, Albert!”
Mrs. Weasley ignored all this and pulled the door open farther, the shock etched plainly on her face. She had probably been beautiful when she was younger, Molly thought, judging by the thickness to her hair and her delicate features.
“Molly?” she said with a hint of uncertainty in her voice, as if she expected at any moment to find out that it wasn’t really her son’s girlfriend.
“Hi,” Molly said feebly. They stood and stared blankly at each other for possibly the longest and most awkward moments in Molly’s life.
“Is—is there something you need, honey?” asked the older woman. “Come on in, dear; it’s cold out. Goodness, you’re not wearing shoes! Your feet must be freezing, poor thing!”
She stepped aside to let Molly in, but for a few seconds, Molly was motionless. This woman, this poor, frazzled, exhausted woman, was showing her the type of concern she had never seen from her own mother. Then, when she registered the slightly worried look on Mrs. Weasley’s face, she realized that she should probably go in.
Once Mrs. Weasley had closed the door behind her and set the laundry basket down by her feet in a spot where it was sure to be in the way later, she turned and called over her shoulder, “Albert, come here, please!”
Arthur’s only older sibling, twenty-year-old Albert, emerged from somewhere in the maze of eclectic furnishings and knickknacks, his tall frame moving toward them with expert agility. He leapt easily over a sofa in what was clearly the only main room of the teeming building. He flashed an easy grin at Molly, just as handsome as Arthur.
“Hello, Miss Prewett,” he told her. “It’s quite lovely to see you, though you didn’t really need to get all dolled up on our account.”
“Hi, Albert,” Molly responded, feeling a lift in her spirits: she had met him before during a visit to Hogsmeade and found him very agreeable and always up for a laugh. He was reminiscent of her brothers, Gideon and Fabian, who had somehow managed to keep Molly’s quarrels with her mother at a minimum. It had only been after they had left Hogwarts and moved out that she’d realized how desperately she hated being there.
“Take Alcander, please, Albert,” Mrs. Weasley said, holding out the sniffling child.
“Right,” he replied brightly, securing Alcander with one arm and plopping down in the nearest chair.
“And go somewhere else.”
“Right.” He hopped up and leapt over a mess of toys on the floor, disappearing into another room moments later.
“Come this way, Molly,” Mrs. Weasley instructed, laying her hand on Molly’s shoulder. “Would you like something else to wear?”
“Here’s a dress of mine; it’s going to be far too large on you, but we haven’t any girls in this family . . . yet.”
Molly took the dress from the woman. “Is this one going to be a girl?” she asked, nodding toward Mrs. Weasley’s swollen abdomen.
“Oh, well, Arnold and I decided to leave it a mystery, you see, but I’m quite sure it’s got to be this time around. Honestly, it’s getting ridiculous. This is my last one, though; I’m putting my foot down on that. I’m getting far too old for having children. You know, I was hardly over your age when I had Albert. Maybe, if Annabel turns out to be Apollo, you’ll be the first Weasley woman to have a girl for a century.”
“A century?” Molly repeated.
“Yes, over a century, actually. Every Weasley woman for the past one hundred five years has had at least five children, and not a one of them has had a girl.”
“Wow,” Molly murmured. Then, several second late, she registered Mrs. Weasley’s previous comment. Apparently this woman had already decided that Molly was going to marry Arthur.
“There’s a lavatory right there, dear,” Mrs. Weasley continued, pointing toward a door on the other side of the maze of a room. “Feel free to change in it, and I’ll fix you something to eat.”
“Oh, I’m not really all that—”
“Nonsense, nonsense,” Mrs. Weasley interrupted. “You’re as thin as a stick, child. Go change.”
Molly obeyed, carefully picking her way through the toys scattered across the floor. She opened the door, slipped inside, and closed it securely behind her for fear of being interrupted by any of the children who were still demolishing parts of the house. She stepped out of her satin dress robes and into the cotton dress she’d been lent, which was far too wide but the perfect length. The pattern was what her mother would have called an atrocity, but Molly didn’t mind it. She certainly wouldn’t pick outfits with dancing gnomes on them, but then again it wasn’t hers, and she had no room to be picky. She glanced at her reflection in the smudged mirror: her hair was falling ungracefully out of its updo and sticking out embarrassingly, her makeup was splotchy, and she looked dead on her feet. It was a strange thought that just that afternoon she and Arthur had been laughing with each other on the Hogwarts Express. Sighing, she pulled out her hairpins, shook her curls loose, and did her best to wipe off her makeup before returning to the living area.
Upon hearing the door open, Mrs. Weasley looked around and motioned Molly toward a table she had not noticed before then, a long, aged one with knots in the wood that was covered with piles of laundry sorting themselves. Molly climbed over a massive sleeping dog to reach the table and took the indicated seat. Mrs. Weasley set a large bowl of hot potato soup in front of her along with a loaf of bread and then dropped wearily into the chair next to Molly’s; she opened her mouth as if she was going to say something, but Molly began speaking instead.
“Mrs. Weasley, I’m so, so sorry for what my mother said today on the platform. She was completely out of line; she always is, and I’m sorry you had to be on the receiving end of one of her ‘I’m-Better-Than-Everyone-Else’ rants. She’s such a b—” She stopped, turning slightly pink. “—bigheaded snob, and I’m sorry.”
“You said that three times, dear,” Mrs. Weasley pointed out. “Don’t worry about it. Just eat your soup. Would you like some more bread?”
After several more apologies and another bowl of soup, Molly began to climb the narrow staircase toward the third floor. She passed fifteen-year-old Abe in the hall where he sat, waiting for the bathroom, his nose in a book, oblivious to his surroundings, and reached the last door, which she knocked on three times.
Arthur’s tired voice came from within. “Who is it?” He sounded weary, as if people came and knocked on his door all the time.
“Jack Lowood,” Molly responded in a deep voice.
An instant later, Arthur threw open the door and grabbed her in a hug. “Molly!” he cried. He pulled back and grinned. “You’re wearing my mother’s dress.”
“I am not,” Molly said in mock-fury. “I hand selected this dress, you git.”
He laughed as he said, “You’re all wobbly, Molly.”
“I’m nervous,” she replied simply; Arthur was the only one she could be so blunt with. She decided that if she did ever have a daughter, she would be sure to encourage the girl to say exactly what she felt.
“Molly Prewett, Queen of Class, nervous?” he asked.
“It’s like you’re shouting, ‘She lives’,” Molly said in exasperation. “Really, Arthur.”
“Molly wobbles!” he yelled; Abe glared briefly before turning a page and shouting at the inhabitant of the bathroom.
“Arthur,” she said, “you’d better not—”
“That will forever be your nickname. You know you love it,” he teased.
And, as she was led into his bedroom, she realized that she did.
| | * | | * | |
It had only been a half hour of peace (in which all the noisier, younger Weasleys had been put to bed), when an owl tapped on his window. Arthur pulled away from Molly and took the letter from the bird, unrolling and scanning it quickly before handing it to her with one simple word: “Crap.”
In a hurried scrawl, a hasty note had been written:
Arthur – I’ve heard that Thomas Prewett is calling in favors through his connections in the Auror department to help him find Molly. I know she’s at home. The two of you must get out quickly. Your mother knows that they’re looking for Molly as well; she’s getting things ready. Find somewhere to stay. And hurry. – Dad
“Let’s get married,” Molly said, turning to look at Arthur. “Now. Tonight.”
He stared at her in shock, wondering what had inspired that outburst.
“I can’t go back there,” she told him. “I can’t. I’ve felt more comfortable here in the last hour than I have anywhere else in my life, especially at my parents’ house. And I can’t let your family get in trouble for doing nothing but helping me. They can’t make me go home if I’m married.”
A smile played gently on his lips as he pulled her to her feet. “Well, then,” he said, heading for the door, “don’t worry about a thing; we’ve got it under control, Mrs. Weasley.”
| | * | | * | |
“Molly, this came for you today,” Arthur greeted, stepping over a laundry basket and holding out a cardboard box to his wife, who traded it with her unhappy infant son. She examined the parcel carefully, searching for any indication of what was inside.
“Who’s it from?” she asked, untying the string around it.
“I don’t know,” her husband said, bouncing the crying baby on his knee in an attempt to soothe him. “Really, William, I don’t know why you’re so upset.”
“Billy, Arthur. We’re calling him Billy. I’ve told you that.” Molly opened the box to find it crammed with packing peanuts. She dug through them before pulling out a red velvet jewelry box. She ran her fingers over the fabric, feeling the jewels embedded in it. Her eyes scanned both boxes in search of the card that had to be there.
“What is it?” Arthur asked, now checking the baby’s nappy. “Really, Wi—Billy, you’re fine, tiger.”
“It’s a jewelry box,” Molly said. “A very nice one. It doesn’t have a card though. How are we supposed to know who it’s from?” She lifted the lid to look inside.
“Whoever sent it must have a lot of money,” Arthur observed mildly, standing up to bounce his crying son properly.
Molly realized who it was from just as she opened the lid and saw the gold inscription on its inside: “Please come to your senses, Molly. Come home.”
“Is there a note in there?” Arthur asked her.
She slammed the lid shut and stood up. “No,” she answered icily. “There’s not.” Tears were pricking her eyes as she climbed the stairs two at a time and marched into her bedroom; she dropped to her knees and threw the box under her bed, not sure why she was doing this and not destroying the damn thing except that she must have felt some desire to preserve this memory forever, to keep proof that her mother was the cold woman Molly had always felt her to be. Without a backwards glance, she marched back down the stairs and into the living room, where she took her wailing son into her arms. He instantly fell silent. Molly smiled bitterly. At least her son would grow up with a mother who loved him.
She glanced at Arthur, who was looking at her with a mixture of amusement, exasperation, and adoration.
She was home.
A/N: I couldn’t for the life of me decide if I should end it with the marriage or that, but I settled for that because I wanted the next chapter to be a bit more humorous all around, so I felt that the little part at the end fit much better with this one. Also, I’m working on another story which is a sequence of letters from Ginny to Harry starting at age ten and spanning for a good while. I’m really fond of it, so please check out my blog for more info and some of the story. My blog url is on my page. And reviews are awesome. :) Really awesome.