Chapter 1 : Chapter one - Molly's Family
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Molly Weasley stood at the granite island in the new Burrow kitchen. She was a strong, pleasantly plump woman with a fierce love of her family, and lately, a streak if gray beginning to show in her otherwise fiery red hair. Waving her wand like an orchestra conductor, she was directing the lunch dishes to clean themselves in the stainless steel sinks and put themselves away in the cupboards.
Mrs. Weasley really loved her new kitchen, in fact, she loved the whole house, and she was so thankful to her son-in-law, Harry Potter, for having it re-built all those years ago after the war had ended. But sometimes in the brief moments of relative quiet, she really missed the original, with its old world charm and out of square angles. This house, while both larger and decidedly more aesthetically pleasing, was none-the-less not the same home she had birthed her babies in, and it was, so…straight, and solid.
Sometimes she missed the creaks that in the past had made her feel that someone might be moving in another part of the rickety, original Burrow. But that structure had been a casualty of the war, and she was so thankful that the building, and not more family members, had been lost in the fight. She shed a single tear for her eldest son. Bill had been the only Weasley lost to the cause.
Molly sighed heavily, and shook the melancholy out of her head. She stepped toward the huge oak table in the dining area. Of all the many gifts Harry had given her, this was her favorite. She ran her hand along the smooth-as-glass finish on the dark wood. This was the last remaining, original Gryffindor table from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry and Ron, along with Fred and George, had rescued it and carefully refinished the top by hand in the laborious Muggle fashion. They had been careful to preserve, the various initials carved into it. It would seat thirty-six along its bench seats, and Molly, glancing at the row of highchairs against the far wall of the room, thought to herself that it just might get completely filled up one day.
Mrs. Weasley flicked her wand, refreshing the floral centerpieces spaced out along the expansive table, and glanced at the row of eight elaborate wall clocks above the highchairs, spaced between numerous framed photographs of smiling family groups. She glanced at the many hands. There were too many to consider at length without concentration other than noting that none were pointed to mortal peril.
Turning to the broad dinning room window, Molly looked out on the side garden. Waves of unabashed love flooded her heart at the sight of her numerous grandchildren. She knew that Winky and Birdy were there somewhere, watching over the children, and she was glad that Ginny and Harry always insisted on sending the two House-elves to help when all the grandchildren were visiting at the Burrow. She couldn’t help taking stock, all the same.
Eleven year old Juliette, Bill and Fleur’s only child, was orchestrating a tea party at the patio table. Molly could hardly believe that she would be the first to attend Hogwarts this coming September. Juliette moved with the same unnatural grace of her mother; her long, straight, pale strawberry hair carefully braided and bound by a baby-blue ribbon, swished behind her as she poured out imaginary tea in Hayley’s cup.
Hayley, at ten, was a stark contrast to her parents, Percy and Penelope. Hayley was an upbeat, outspoken, adventurous child; her blond hair cropped just short of her shoulders, framed her face. Molly wondered that Hayley wasn’t off with the boys, being the tom-boy that she was. But then, her cousin Juliette had always been able to bring out the little girl in her.
Next to Hayley was Emilia, age eight, Charlie and Helena’s middle child. Emilia had her mother’s dark hair and eyes, and was at the moment, struggling to disentangle herself from strands and strands of something called Weasley’s Wondrous Wandering String, which was being sprayed on her by her cousins Kitty (Katrina) and Kat (Katherine).
How Fred and Susan, and George and Sandra, had managed to have nearly identical auburn headed girls born on the same day, was beyond Mrs. Weasley, but then they had done the same thing with the boys, and she speculated that when wizard twins married witch twins in a double ceremony, there was bound to be something connected and identical about their lives and families.
Kitty and Kat, at six years old, were pranksters well beyond their years, and always managed to have nicked something from their fathers’ shops. Molly knew that the string was harmless; Fred and George had come up with it for parties, based on something they had seen on Muggle television. Kitty and Kat had started spraying the stuff on one-another, covering there thick auburn curls and freckled faces.
Mrs. Weasley noted that Birdy was already clearing the sticky persistent stuff away, and she smiled to herself that even Dobby and Winky had managed to have a family after committing themselves in the service of the Potters. Birdy, was in fact, barely older than Molly’s youngest grandchild, but House-elf children always reached maturity in about three years.
With all but one of the girls at the imaginary tea party, that left only Abigail; and Molly knew exactly where she would be. Glancing to the large oak tree that spread out over the far corner of the garden, she quickly located the dangling patent leather shoe, which she knew was attached to eight year old Abigail, who was, no doubt, leaning against her favorite branch…reading. Abby, (who hated the familiar nickname) had the bushiest head of bright red hair and her father’s blue eyes. Only a child of Hermione’s would be able to climb a tree with a book under her arm, read with utter concentration despite the chaos of her cousins all around her, and emerge hours later with not a single mark or wrinkle on her perfectly pleated summer dress.
With the girls accounted for, Molly turned her attention to searching out the boys.
Adam, at age ten, was the oldest of the boys, Charlie and Helena’s oldest child. Molly quickly located him in the tree house above Abigail’s perch. Adam was a swarthy child who had already decided that he would one day be a dragon tamer like his father and mother. From his playful cries and quick movements, Molly could tell that he was taming imaginary creatures already, filling the tree house with roaring, fire breathing, scaly beasts.
Alton was there in the tree house too, standing at the trap door, very likely demanding a password from his cousins Bishop and Bart (Bartholomew) on the rope ladder below. Alton, age nine, was the second oldest of the boys, Percy and Penelope’s middle child. If his sister, Hayley was their parents’ opposite, Alton was meant to be his parents’ child. Prim and proper, Alton adored procedure and loathed misbehavior. His hair was deep red and his face narrow. It was true, he was a bit of a tattle tale, and, like his father before him, the brunt of most of the practical jokes, but he seemed somehow to understand that this just secured his place in the family, amongst the gaggle of Grandchildren.
Banging on the trap door beneath Alton were Bishop and Bart, Fred and Susan’s and George and Sandra’s, respectively. Like their younger sisters these precocious eight year olds had been born on the same day, and if you didn’t know otherwise, you might have thought them identical twins. Their blonde heads were flashing toward one another conspiratorially as they considered the problem of how to gain entry into the tree house. These two were brave and bold beyond their years, and Mrs. Weasley would have been concerned about them dangling on the rope ladder, but she could see that Winky was there at the base of the massive oak, eyeing them with great care.
Scanning the garden, Molly located Garrick, Herman, and little Billy in the sand pit, pushing around the Muggle toy, Lorries. Garrick, Charlie and Helena’s youngest at six, was the only red head of their children. His dark hair was ruddy and reflected deepest red in the sunlight. His complexion, dark as well, reflecting so much of his mother. Garrick was a bit of a stand-offish child, preferring the company of his cousins to the adults, who wanted to cuddle and pinch him.
Herman, Percy and Penelope’s youngest, also six, was never too far from Garrick. Herman was as fair as Garrick was dark, his head a faint strawberry blond. Also a fiercely independent child, he took after his big sister Hayley, being more rough-and-tumble than his big brother Alton.
Molly’s eyes settled finally on Billy, the youngest Weasley. He was a mess, Muggle bandages on both elbows and knees, his fiery red hair filled with sand, and a dark smudge of something along the side of his nose. He was roaring at his cousins, obviously pretending to be some ferocious beast. If his big sister Abigail was Hermione’s daughter, this little four year old was all Ron.
Mrs. Weasley fondly remembered the crowded room at the Manor on the night of Billy’s birth. Hermione, exhausted but beaming, sat up in bed cradling the bundle with a thin lock of red hair flashing from the top. Ron, as proud as Molly had ever seen him, had little Abigail in the crook of his arm, snoozing on his shoulder. He gently squeezed Hermione’s hand and announced that they wanted to name their son after his fallen brother, Bill.
Fleur had collapsed in happy tears, hugging Juliette closely. Arthur had needed to sit down, he was so deeply touched, and Molly had just needed to hold her newest Grandson.
As content and proud as Mrs. Weasley was to see the garden as filled with Weasley children as it had ever been, she realized suddenly that there was one missing. She scanned the garden franticly for her missing grandson. Her eyes flashed to the broom shed and noted that it was carefully locked, a wise precaution with this particular child. She felt her heart skip and was about to yell for Winky, when she felt a pull at her skirt hem and jumped with a start.
Molly turned to the four year old at her feet and mockingly scolded, “James Arthur Potter, you gave Grand-mum a fright.” There was no mistaking this little boy; he had his Father’s and Grandfather’s untamable, unruly locks of black hair. He was already wearing small, round rimmed glasses and his eyes were hazel, a mix of the bright golden brown of his Mother and the brilliant green of his Father, with just a touch of amber mixed in. He held out his arms to his Grandmother, and Molly scooped him up. “Looking for a biscuit from Gran are you?” she inquired lovingly.
James didn’t respond to the question, and Mrs. Weasley noticed the fierce look on his little face. His eyes seemed somehow far away. “What is it baby?” Molly asked gently. James reached his small hands to his Grandmother’s cheeks and leaned in pressing his forehead to hers. Suddenly images flashed in Molly’s mind: James’ Mother, her Daughter, sweaty and screaming. And, Harry, slumped in a chair near a familiar fireplace, weeping into his hands. The vision stopped abruptly and Mrs. Weasley knew that her grandson couldn’t fully comprehend the meaning of these images, but they concerned him rightly, and his awareness wouldn’t let him ignore them. James said in a questioning tone, “Daddy…scared for Mommy. Mum-Mum take Jamie home?”
Mrs. Weasley had always been astounded by the manifestations of Wizarding power evident in this Grandson. He was independent, astoundingly quick and bright…and gentle. He had never, even in anger, reached out to harm a living thing. She understood the images clearly, but James could only see his parents in apparent pain, and he wouldn’t stand for being apart from them right now. Molly knew that if she didn’t agree and act quickly, this amazing four year old was likely to instinctively Apparate home all on his own.
Molly called for Birdy, and with a pop, the little Elf was standing at her feet. She bent down, looking straight into the Elf’s bright, round, golden-orange eyes. “Birdy,” she said firmly, settling James comfortably on her hip, “Jamie, wishes to go home. I need you to pop to the manor and unlock the Library Floo. Inform Harry that I shall be their momentarily. Then come back here and help your mother gather the children.”
“Yes, Mrs. Weasley,” squeaked the elf with a deep respectful bow of her head. With a pop …she was gone.
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At the Manor