Molly waits and watches as ever.
One more Sunday. One more monotonous Sunday in the fan of her days.
Once, she looked forward to them. But now, her days are passing bleakly and she counts them as she does a rosary, prayerfully waiting for the day that she can smile again. She talks less and less because there is nothing to say and slowly, she is beginning to lose her words.
She watches her sister from the corner of her eye. Lucy takes a sip of her butterbeer and turns back, a shadow of a smile on her face.
“What is it?” she whispers. “Is something wrong?”
“Nothing,” Molly says. And it’s true.
Nothing is wrong. Really.
Lucy smiles and pats her hand and Molly manages a faint trace of a grin.
Molly looks at her sister and tries to feel happy that Lucy’s finally found a job again. She tries to remember what that light, bubbly feeling used to be like – butterflies stroking the sides of her stomach, enveloping her in a warm glow and pulling up the sides of her mouth.
All she can manage is an empty, stark twist of her features.
She knows that she should be happy for her sister, knows that her silly jealousy is tomorrow’s laughter. But none of will change the fact that she has to stay home again and watch everybody else be happy.
Molly carries her empty plate and puts it in the sink. On her way back to her seat, she passes Victoire, who gives her a small smile. Molly looks at her cousin, whose beautiful face has been marred by exhaustion and wonders what is happening to all of them.
“You okay, Molly?”
“Yes,” Molly whispers. “I’m fine. You?”
“I’m here and there,” Victoire says, her voice sounding like carousels and Ferris wheels and all the things that spin without reason. “Life’s been…hard…”
She trails off, looking lost.
Molly sighs. “I know.”
“Still haven’t found a job?”
There is a pregnant pause.
“You and Teddy are – “
“Nothing,” Victoire says harshly. “We’re nothing, actually.”
“I’m – sorry – “
But Molly is slowly learning not to be.
“It’s okay,” Victoire says. She grabs her wand off the counter and begins walking away. “It’s nothing now. I’m okay.”
Molly watches her cousin disappear into the folds of their family, gliding past Freddy and Aunt Angelina until she is completely out of sight.
She sighs and begins walking back to her seat, feeling at a loss for what more there is to say. Her mother comes to her with a grim smile.
“Come on darling, finish eating.”
“I’m not hungry, Mum.”
Her mother fusses briefly. “You’ll be hungry in an hour if you don’t eat.”
“Mum, stop it. I’m okay.” She turns away quickly; a small flush of guilt washes through her as she catches a glimpse of her mother’s wounded expression. She knows that her mother only wants her to be happy, but it stings Molly to see herself like this.
Twenty years old and still living with her mother, still depending on her for a future.
Molly walks resolutely out of the kitchen and downstairs. The Burrow – the place of eternal Sundays. Everyone is five and then fifteen and then twenty five and nothing at all has changed. Rose still fights and Uncle George still makes everyone laugh. Molly catches sight of her father standing next to Uncle Bill; both of them are laughing at something Louis has done.
At least her family is still happy. At least they still have each other.
Molly takes a deep breath.
She keeps walking downstairs, bits and pieces of other people’s conversations floating down to her.
“ – and then he said that I wasn’t – “
“ – Victoire, could you pass the – “
“ – the Muggle Malice Act of 1905, proposed by – “
She finally reaches the place she did not know she was looking for: a chair by the window-side downstairs. Outside, the sky is a hazy mass of clouds; flecks of sunlight dance at the bottom, reflecting onto the field beyond her. The grey skies seem to make everything brighter – the plants swaying in the winds, the flowers that are losing their petals one by one. A clock chimes somewhere and Molly breathes. One, two, one, two.
She can hear the soft rush of a footfall near here.
“Oh.” Her voice automatically raises an octave. “What do you want?”
“Are you okay?”
She turns to meet him. There is a strange expression on his face. In his hands, he holds an orange and she rolls her eyes. He’s always eaten too many of those things.
“You were sitting alone all through dinner, Molly.”
“I didn’t think you’d notice,” she said coldly.
His eyebrows rise. “If I’ve done something wrong, you can just tell me – “
“It isn’t that. You wouldn’t understand.”
He takes a seat next to her and Molly looks pointedly away. Outside the window, she can see the faint outline of gnomes running through the wild grass and snorts lightly. Her grandfather never can keep them away for long.
“Is this about your family or something?”
“You’re making this hard, aren’t you?”
“Nothing’s wrong. I told you. So you can just go now. Really. I’m okay.”
He snorts at this. He could always see through her, but he turns to rise.
Only after she hears his footsteps spin into the blur of sound and voices does she feel a heat spike to her cheeks.
She’d messed it up again.
The first time they’d been alone for a while now.
She wants to tell him. She has already tried more times than she can count. But she knows he does not feel the same. He does not blush or look away or twist his hands. He does not look or smell or act different. There are no flowers in his hands or change in his eyes. He is Teddy Lupin, her friend.
She does not love him. She knows that it is not love with towers or princesses or roses. She does not need him to rescue her. She does not need a prince. It is not chocolates or tears or passion. It is laughter and gentle autumn days and lake breeze. It is not forgetting.
She does not love him. But she is Molly and he is Teddy and she thinks that she one day will.
And for that, she knows she must try.
Them. Two futures intertwining to one. It is a sweet melody and doves falling to the air. It is honey and melancholic and gray days. It will happen. She knows it and he someday will and it will happen.
When they meet, they are collisions of the heart, harpsichords and the clinging tune of a flute’s note. She is autumn and he is its sonatas – birdsongs and wood and evenings around fireflies – and they are inevitable.
To her, autumn once meant orange leaves and crumbling trees and the faint promises of springtime – tea roses and porcelain cups and the skyline at dawn. But autumn is her and them and almost-smiling and learning how to forgive.
She rises from her seat and turns towards the door.
She walks down a narrow hallway, her heart racing. She opens every door slightly until she reaches the one near the stairs. On the front of it, a sloppily written piece of parchment charmed to the door proudly proclaims that it’s her Uncle Ron’s room.
She pushes it open gently. There’s a burst of laughter from a floor below.
And there he is.
He sits on the bed, his head in his hands. He looks up when she enters, his expression unreadable.
Molly does not know much. She does not know much past her violin or her mother’s piano. She does not know of the world much past the winters spent in isolation, the days without heat, the nights without love. She knows of family and friendship and that they are the lone suns in the darkness.
“What is it?” he asks.
She does not know what to say. She catches sight of his disappointed expression and does not know what to say. He is the skyline and she is the sunlight and together, they make day and brightness and the vibrancy of what it is to live.
He has never understood or known or seen this – them for what they could be as she does.
He has always been her friend and she has always loved him, but they have been oceans apart. Stormy seas have divided them and she has waited and waited for him. For weeks and months, but possibly her whole life.
He stares at her and she stares back. She hears nothing – nothing of the shouts below or the wind playing through the trees – nothing more than her heart pounding against her.
He rises and stands over her. He has always been taller than her – too tall for her short frame.
She feels electricity settling on the layer of her skin. She feels as though if she really listens, she can hear stars being born and fireflies learning to fly and rain giving way to sun.
They have always been oceans apart, but now, finally, it draws to a close.
She stands on the tips of her toes and presses her lips gently to his. She feels him stiffen.
Reaching. At last, she is reaching him…
Author's Note: We're very nearly there! One more chapter to go! ^__^ A bit of a cliffie here, but the update will be coming soon! Again, I'd really like to thank everyone who has read/reviewed/favorited - it really does mean a lot. :-)
I've been getting a lot less reviews lately, so I do hope you'll review this chapter. Thank you for all the support!