Chapter 1 : Song of the Desolate
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“Molly,” Arthur whispered into her hair. “Molly, come to bed.”
Molly said nothing, merely letting her husband pick her up from the seat and enclose her in his arms. She smiled softly, able to smell him through his thin nightclothes, a mixture of wood, oil and books that she breathed in slowly. The smell had been so familiar to her for so long, her favourite mixture of scents that she had never, could never get tired of. He held her for a few moments, swaying to the sound of a silent Burrow, arms wrapped around her waist.
Molly had always felt safe in his arms. She was not someone who needed protecting -- or so she liked to think, but there was something safe about being wrapped in his arms. It felt right, like two halves of a whole. It felt like home. Molly inhaled deeply, wishing that the soft fabric of her husband’s pyjamas, the feel of his chest rising and falling against hers, that is was the only thing that existed. No need to think of war, of fighting, of whose side they were on. But it wasn’t the only thing. No matter how hard she wished for it to be, the thoughts of her children, of all the people in both the Wizarding community and in the Muggle world, all in grave danger would not leave her mind.
“Oh, Arthur…” she breathed, biting her lip.
In response to this, he pulled away from her slowly, so his face was visible to her, his arms now resting on her hips as he met her soft brown eyes. Molly managed a weak smile, studying each fleck of brown in his otherwise green eyes, new wrinkles formed from stress rather than the laughter lines around his mouth. She wondered if that was what had kept together them so long; that there was always something new to discover, some unchartered territory that they had not yet crossed. He always seemed able to surprise her, just as she thought she had come to know every inch of him.
He leaned down then, kissing her lightly on the lips, a frown betraying his concern.
“Molly,” he repeated. “You should sleep.”
“Bill is stable,” he told her, his voice suddenly stern. “Right now, you need to take care of yourself.”
Molly gave a great sigh, casting a look through from the kitchen to the bed in the living room where her eldest son lay, sleeping. Arthur was right, of course. Bill had been sleeping since he had been bought home from St. Mungos, taking his sleeping draft as his Healer had instructed, so strong he had not been able to make it to what had once been his room. Instead, Molly had transfigured the sofa into a bed, not wanting to disturb her son. He needed all the rest he could, even if it meant Molly would be sacrificing her own.
But it was very rare that her husband took the reigns in their relationship - it was usually she who took the forceful had, around their children especially (for Arthur could be a somewhat more dominant force away from them). When he did, she would always obey him. Not because she was a good housewife, with traditional views who did as her husband said, but because she knew that when he did take charge, he was usually right. Not only that, she knew that Arthur did only what was best for her, for their children.
“Let me say goodnight,” she said, slipping from his loose grasp to make her way to her sleeping son.
She could feel Arthur’s presence in the kitchen doorway at first, watching her, but as she leant down besides the bed, she heard his footsteps as he padded back towards the creaking staircase that led to their bedroom. Her gaze, however, did not stray from Bill.
He looked almost normal now, the worse of the bite marks healed. It had been the blood that made it all the worse…there had been so much of it, covering every inch of the skin on his face, his neck. She had feared at first for his life. There had been such relief to find out he was alive, going to make it…until she had realised the full implications of the injuries he had sustained.
It was such an ugly word, that seemed so oddly sinister. Perhaps that was only when Fenrir Greyback was the name put to it, who took such joy in turning young boys, who had full lives ahead of them. It had been a comfort to know that he would not be a full werewolf, instead only taking on some of the traits. It was better, she had comforted herself, than death.
Death. What she feared most. Not for herself; but for her family. What she would do without her children, without Arthur. She could hardly bear to imagine it. Losing her brothers to Voldemort - that had been enough to teach her just what family had meant. She had taken them for granted, as so many did, and it one fatal curse, they had vanished from her life. It was almost as if they had never been there, only faint remnants giving away their existence, they had left the world so suddenly, so mercilessly.
She would never let that happen again, never take any one of her children for granted, nor her husband, no matter how mad they drove her at times - she did not know when the dial on the clock would turn from ‘Mortal Peril’ to…well. She daren’t think about it.
“Bill, what have they done to you?” she asked quietly, reaching across to stroke his rough, scarred cheek. Even under the influence of the sleeping draft, he stirred slightly, a murmur escaping his lips before he fell silent again.
Some part of Molly was desperate for revenge. But it was a small part; she was not a vengeful person, but for someone to touch her son, to wish to kill him, or turn him into some unspeakable crea --
She stopped herself, just in time, mentally scolding herself for thinking such things. She had been thinking of Greyback, of course, not considering the other, more peaceful werewolves in existence -- Remus Lupin had managed to live a full life. Or as full as it could be. He may have tried to push Tonks away at first, but Molly had been so pleased he had found someone to love him, that he allowed to love him. She knew how hard it was for him to do that, scared he might hurt the ones he loved.
Remus hadn’t realised, of course, that pushing them away in the first place caused them great distress, as it had done with Tonks, before she had learnt his nature and pursued him with more determination. She wondered if that determination alone had been the thing to win over Remus’ heart.
She knew for sure, though, that Fleur loved her son. Molly had been so unsure of the Frenchwoman at first, cautious and weary that she might break her son’s heart. She had been so vain, but now…in the hospital bed after that night, that terrible night, she had shown that she loved Bill, with or without his newly acquired affliction. She was grateful for this, that he would be happy.
Leaning towards him, she kissed him on the cheek, knowing that he was probably too old for such things, and pulled the duvet tighter around him as she rose to her feet again. She watched him for a few moments, and then, seemingly satisfied, made her way back to the kitchen, through to where Arthur sat on the stairs, waiting for her.
He looked up as she approached, and smiled - not a grin, but a small lift of each corner of his mouth before he took her outstretched hand and began to lead them back to their bedroom, feet heavy against the old wooden stairs.
She felt so thankful suddenly, elation rising in her stomach as she followed her husband across the landing. So comforted by the fact she had somewhere there, someone she was quite sure she could rely on to take care of her, of her family, to love her. She could not imagine how lonely she would be, not just without her kids, but without Arthur. Her first love, and whom she hoped would be her last love. Of course, the future held things in store for them that she could not know, but there had almost always been a constant in her life, Arthur Weasley, there to hold her hand. She had been a Weasley for longer than she had been a Prewett in her life, and she couldn’t think of anyone else she would want to be.
Carefully, Arthur unhooked his fingers from hers, pulling back the covers to allow Molly to lie down before he did the same next to her. He pulled her close beneath the covers, kissing her slowly.
“Goodnight,” he said, after a pause. He added, a note of concern in his voice; “Please rest.”
Molly nodded, smiling weakly at him, before she turn over, feeling his arms envelope her. Settling down into her pillow, she allowed her eyes to close, sleep drawing in to take hold of her.