Chapter 3 : (merry go round)
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Sunday comes and brings with it wet winds and terse words and emptiness.
The skies are as devoid as they have always been. The world is as she remembers it - unnervingly bleak and cold. All talking suspends momentarily, broken in by a coincidential, swelling silence.
It is Sunday with the Weasleys. Talking, food, family.
The silence breaks and out of it pours small chatters, which fan out through the rest of the room. Molly sits by the window of her grandmother’s house. That has always been her seat. Just close enough to see the world, but not feel the wind.
Everyone bursts out at once, talking over the other. She shrinks back slightly, playing with the few remnants on her plate. After all this time away, she feels like a stranger. The sky outside is a quiet black. Within the texture of its fabric lie inkier pools, interlacing tresses of hollow gray, she thinks she can hear crickets chirp and garden gnomes run about. The world – time and words and emotions – seem suspended.
Someone briefly mentions her name and she fixes the general direction the necessary smile. She does not think it matters to whom.
Victoire catches her eye and they both look away quickly. They know that any eye contact would result in a forced attempt by their grandmother to talk. Molly has nothing against Victoire, but thinks with a small smile that Victoire is as easy to talk to as a chair. Perfect people are always difficult to talk to.
Louis and Hugo are arguing again. Molly grins. Most of the family is arguing at one time or another.
“It’s obviously the Appleby Arrows – “
“I don’t know what you’re on about – the Arrows haven’t won a game since – “
“Care to bet on it, then?”
Victoire drops her spoon and looks toward Teddy, who wears the light shadow of a grimace. She nudges him and he pushes her away, his grimace darkening. Victoire frowns and he pushes back his chair and walks away. Aunt Hermione and Uncle Ron are standing some distance away, holding a full on shouting match, complete with spectators.
“I – cannot – believe you!”
“What?” Uncle Ron asks defensively.
“Ron, you know perfectly well how I feel about this – “
Molly doesn’t suppose she can laugh aloud at them. She turns, instead to Rose, who is conversing with Lysander Scamander. Rose’s ember eyes are focused downwards on her own hands. Both she and Lysander are decidedly avoiding each other’s gaze. Clearly, they both still remember last week’s fight.
Rose speaks first. “Gamp’s theory states that to successfully Vanish something, you need at least – “
“ – yes, but that doesn’t discount the existence of the viper.”
“There’s no way something like that can exist, Lysander! Its entire existence is self-negating! If it does exist, how on earth could it keep itself alive?”
“Stranger things have happened.”
“Yes,” she said, her voice dripping with sarcasm. “You certainly can attest to that.”
Lorcan picks at his food with a distinct disinterest. His voice is as airy as Molly remembers it to be, like a summer breeze. “Keep it civil, Rose.”
“I am civil.”
A lamp bulb flickers. Molly can hear a soft thumping noise from the ceiling; she vaguely registers that there were people smart enough to eat dinner quickly and escape upstairs.
“Say what you want,” Lorcan says lightly, “but last weekend ended with me wearing parsnips. Someone clearly has bad aim.”
Molly looks away, momentarily disinterested from their perpetual arguments. Lucy, who has been watching the argument from a distance, wanders over, her brunette locks bouncing. She looks at Molly and both of them laugh quietly.
“Are you sure about them, Luce?”
“Absolutely,” Lucy whispers back, her eyes flashing with amusement. Besides Molly, who looks pale and gaunt and listless, Lucy looks young and vibrant. Nearly anything has her brimming with energy, ready to burst at the seams. “My tea leaves've never been wrong."
“But it just seems kind of – “
“ – impossible?”
“Well, look at them. They keep arguing.”
“Just trust me." Lucy's superstitiousness and her belief in her tea leaves and crystal balls and playing cards have been something Molly can no longer understand. She remembers herself at fifteen, constantly brewing tea and checking her palms and reading candles with excitement. Now it seems so silly...
Trying to push away the sad conclusion of her thoughts, she murmurs, “But I think she’s more likely to murder him than marry him.”
Lucy twirls her glass lightly and grins. “That’s the fun part. I know the ending already. Now we’ve just got to watch it all work out. Rose Scamander. Well, it does have a certain ring to it.”
“Are you ever going to tell her? You know – beforehand?"
“Are you mad? She’ll have me sent away for St. Mungo’s before she’ll believe me.” Lucy throws her head back a little and laughs. There is a call from upstairs and she pauses. “Lily’s calling me, Molly. I’ll be back later.”
With that, Lucy rises and floats away, into the indiscernible pool of redheads that is gathering by the front of the kitchen. Molly looks around herself.
She is nearly alone. She hadn’t noticed. Save for Albus, Aunt Fleur, and Dominique, she is nearly alone. Albus notices as well – he pushes everything into his mouth quickly and walks away. Dominique frowns at her mother, who is once again pushing more food towards her. She reaches for her parchment.
Maman, she writes, stop.
Dominique cannot speak. Some small part of Molly loves her the most for it – more than all her other cousins. Sometimes, she thinks, almost as much she loves Lucy. In a family of stars, they are part of the darkness. But they are not the same - not completely. Dominique is mute, but Molly - however rueful, however self-pitying - thinks she is the one without a voice.
Dominique too runs off and her mother follows her, plate and disapproval in hand.
Again, the memories resurface. They begin to pull her back. A violin and a piano. A small flat. One bedroom, with a broken stove and a leaky roof. Playing on the streets, waiting to be discovered, but feeling the months slowly break her. Desperation, hunger. Disappointment. But she wouldn't go back home or write for money. She couldn't, she knew. Not when she'd nearly broken her mother's heart by refusing to settle down properly. And not when she'd inherited her father's sense of pride.
That last summer took nearly everything.
And finally, it forced her back home.
Molly is not ungrateful for her life. She supposes that all of it – the suffering, the anger, the sadness – have all brought her to this point. To this night, to this table. And, for that, she is not ungrateful. She looks outside the window by her side and sees the star brushed darkness. The vastness of the black – the rolling hills somewhere beyond, the tufts of grass that have been gently parted by the tidings of daylight – all hang suspended. Everything – sound, color, noise - fades.
She loves her family. Sometimes, her father drives everyone to wit's end with his overprotectiveness. Sometimes, her mother is too disciplined for Molly’s tastes; she lives a comparmentalized life with certain expectations for everything. Sometimes, even Molly thinks Lucy really ought to stop being so whimsical and start being more responsible.
And Molly still loves her cousins. Even if Fred still isn’t passing Transfiguration and Rose gets on everyone’s nerves and Lily shows off too much. They make her laugh and keep her days vivid with the brightness of living. She isn’t perfect either, she knows. She isn’t good with people. She gets angry when she doesn’t get what she wants. She can be selfish. She doesn’t like talking. Molly doesn’t hate herself for it. Life and living, she thinks, is like the ocean. Waves come, overlap, and part. Life is storms and sea breeze, love and loathing, passion and placidity, always and arbitrary, eternal and ending.
She is not ungrateful. She looks outside the window and sees everything blooming. Crickets chirping, fireflies breezing through the loops of grass, the moon serenely smiling. The elongated figures of her cousins reflect onto the glass. One, two, one, two. The world tilts, like merry go rounds and Ferris wheels.
But those years ago, when she still lived in the perfect universe of her childhood, she had seen more. Happiness. Fulfillment. Accomplishment.
She is not ungrateful.
It’s just that she thought her future would be so much brighter.
A/N: The gorgeous chapter image above is by Musicbox at The Dark Arts. This chapter's for Rachel (PenguinsWillReignSupreme) and Molly (SnitchSnatcher). who convinced me to save this story and continue it. You might've noticed that the title of the story went from 'Autumn Sonata' to 'Autumn's Sonatas'. The change was made to avoid copyright infringement. Also, I know that the British equivalent of "Merry Go Round" is likely "carousel", but the chapter title comes from the name of a song, so I felt kind of strange about changing that.
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by Lord James