Chapter 1 : one
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The pub had gone silent.
It had been a long day, and she had been exhausted, but she had felt obligated to go to the Thursday dinner despite it. Her mother would have been scandalized if she hadn’t and getting an extra hour of sleep just hadn’t been worth it compared to the three extremely irritated letters she would have received. It had been a good dinner with good food even though her father insisted on furtively glaring at Lucy’s boyfriend through narrowed eyes, and Lucy’s new boyfriend kept on insisting on very obviously displaying his affections on Lucy in a way that would forever scar Molly’s eyes.
Conversation seemed to die down, and Molly who just couldn’t stand awkwardness, had blurted out, “I was wonder, erm, what’s a blood traitor?” She could still remember the words; remember what had happened from the laced flowers in her mother’s collar to the smudge of sauce on Lucy’s nose. Her mother started to quietly cry, her hands cradling her face, and her father had abruptly gone to his room and didn’t leave no matter how hard Molly and Lucy had knocked on the door. Lucy’s boyfriend had stumbled to the fireplace to Floo out, looking sick to the stomach, but no one had answered her question, and Lucy had been as puzzled as she had been.
In Hogwarts, Molly had been sorted into Ravenclaw and strived to be everything her somewhat dim sister couldn’t be with her fantastic grades and even managing to get the Head Girl position to her delight. None of that seemed of any importance now, but it meant the whole world to her back then. And so, like a true Ravenclaw, she hadn’t hesitated to go straight for the Ministry Archives and ask. That was something, one of the many things, she would never forget. The strained look on the worker as he led her to the correct section, and her own disbelieving eyes scanning the words twice to make sure it was real and not some sort of horrible, twisted lie. It was required for students to study History of Magic although Molly had given it up by her sixth year. Of course she knew of the awful things that had happened in the past – her family’s past was tied in the story. But none of her textbooks ever truly went in depth of the racism and sickness that time had been.
The months had stumbled over each other – some dragging out and others racing by – until a year had gone by, and her world was on the brink of a war. Actually, no, that wasn’t true at all. Her world was at war and there was no brink about it. It was terribly confusing, and she couldn’t make any sense of it. She didn’t know what side she was on when nothing made sense. After a while, she had concluded she was on the side of the Ministry. That was where she worked, and that was the thing that paid her flat rent. James had always understood it the best because he always understood these things like politics and wars that only put her into a fluster. He tried to explain how it was going on under their noses, how they didn’t even notice at first. When she thought about that, she could recall the headlines she didn’t bother to read to haste to get to the Quidditch column (although it was almost well-worth it considering the Tornadoes was on a winning streak).
That was when everything fell apart, and her life fell into chaos. Within ten minutes of her shaky fingers gripping the newspapers with the stark headlines of the first Death Eater attack, Uncle Harry Floo’d in, shaking her and asking her if she understood, if she understood her life was at risk because of how she was born. Lucy was her Secret Keeper for the flat, and Molly was Lucy’s. Her job became increasingly more dangerous, and her parents begged her to quit. She couldn’t, of course. Her world was at stake, and she had been petty, liking to be one of the heroes. It had been almost glamorous at first, fighting for what she believed in. The muggle world had sided with some of the radical muggleborns, and they were fighting the rest of the wizarding world to get rid of magic once and for all.
Then reality began to settle in. Then everyday started to get worse and worst. Molly had always been the perfect pick for negotiating assignments, a young woman with the blood status of a half blood and a calm personality. She never saw too much, but she had seen enough. It was a burden that weighed her every step, heavier and heavier as the days passed by. Today was her twenty-seventh birthday, and she was spending it in a pub with a supposed friend under the name of Ms. Marion Deviance, talking about the war. It never seemed to leave her. Sometimes it was like it never would.
Now she was the one on the other side of the equation. She hated it. She hated looking into the mirror and seeing dark hair that looked just like hers if not smoother and shorter and a nose too long for her liking. The Polyjuice Potion tasted too icy and bitter on her tongue, and she felt like she wasn’t entirely Molly. So was the life of being a spy. What was even more frustrating was simply that there was barely any information to give. James had assured her before contact had to be cut off entirely that they were recruiting her soon.
The Death Eaters.
Another story she could never forget; it just wasn’t one of those things anyone could put in the back of their minds. The name had meant very little out of stuffy textbooks for Molly at first, but now even the words could send a chill running down her spine. Death eaters were a force that rightfully frightened all of her family, but it was the one who went through the war that really hated it. When her dad heard what the other force had called themselves, he broke two dishes and a vase. Lucy and Molly could still hear him crying hours afterwards. It had to be the history behind the wicked name. They were exactly what the muggleborns and muggles that had started this whole mess had feared. It wasn’t her or Molly, but the pureblood group who fought back and proved the point.
Sometimes she thought that they were right. That it was their fault that it had to be this way. Nowhere seemed safe anymore. Even the bar she sat in was heavily guarded from muggles and even muggleborns. She swallowed back her anger. Her own aunt wouldn’t be allowed to enter the premises.
“Aye, I would say you’re utterly lost now.” Molly said disapprovingly to the swaying man, steadying him with a firm hand. She kept her steely gaze on him suspiciously but ready to call the innkeeper if necessary.
“I… am not, Marion.” He said dramatically, but the effect was lost when he fell back down to the stool. The other men by him roared in laughter, and he stood up, flushed in hot anger.
“Gentle,” said Molly hastily, reaching out to grab his wrist and pull him back to her.
“They just wait till I’m better state of mind.” He muttered to himself resentfully, his glare fixed on the men that had moved on to leering at a couple of witches. Just as stubborn as always, he refused to admit he was drunk.
“I’ll be just a moment. Don’t kill them while I’m gone.” She said, standing up and heading towards the innkeeper. She glanced back once cautiously but only found him slumped up with his head on the table, drowsily mumbling to himself. He wasn’t the worst of the lot, but there was one lad who had taken to dancing on the tables and singing nursery rhymes on the top of his lungs. “What is this riff-raff?” She demanded of the innkeeper, keeping herself in character just like a scornful pureblood activist should be. “I thought you said that this was reserved for only those with certain standards. How low are your standards, William?”
At least, according to Marion Deviance’s memories, it was so. The innkeeper shifted uneasily, his eyes flitting across the pub and back to the insulted looking witch slowly. He certainly knew he was in a bad position. “You will find that when they’re sober, all of these people are quite up to standards. I swear, Ms. Deviance, they are.”
The witch crossed her arms haughtily, but she softened to a smile. Just as Marion would. Molly admired how clever the woman had been. She had played just the right strings to keep many in terror but managed to keep them in awe of her kind-heart and her determination. They were thankful when she didn’t do anything. Sometimes it made no sense. It was like being thankful when someone didn’t hurt her. She shouldn’t have been hurt in the first place, and she saw no reason on being thankful for it. “Men will be men.” She said with a laugh and playful smiled, noting the innkeeper’s stance loosened. With a sharp nod, she returned back to Caspar who was now entertaining himself by stacking paper cups.
Marion had played with them. The woman had been incredibly intelligent with a strong grasp on psychology and politics that made her deadly. Even though Molly walked in Marion’s skin, she was doubtful whether she would ever understand the woman. Marion could be a diplomat with a pretty smile, and she could be a fighter with a tongue for the killing dagger. She played games with everyone but perhaps her friends, but Molly was certain that this woman played subtle games with them too, too subtle to be caught by Molly.
“Marion!” Caspar said cheerily with the enthusiasm of an eight year old, looking up to beam at her with those mismatched bright green eyes that reminded her of Albus and that endearing grin. Deciding this wasn’t at all loud enough, he yelled even louder, “Marion!” At that, he looked more pleased with himself.
She looked calculatingly at him, wracking Marion’s memories to see what she could find on him. It was still too difficult, and he head ached every time she struggled to take hold of one of the wispy threads. Her face remained motionless for a split second before Molly fell beside him with a warm smile, pleased at her success.
“So tell me, Caspar,” Molly decided to go with the conversation option from the vague memories, hoping to extract information from the drunken man. “What do you think of our new prison?” Our. Marion would have approved of this prison. Molly hated it.
He took some time to formulate proper thought, his bright eyes focused in the distance some place too far for her to see. “I appreciate the historical connection.” He giggled.
Molly laughed genuinely, nodding in agreement. “If nothing else, I suppose, you have to appreciate that. Bastille of all places – a place of nightmares. Building a prison tin the remains of the location is genius though with all the fear it would inspire.”
His gaze darkened. “I’ve got relations who died then and there. I swear it’s a stab at my own heart.”
At his words, she found herself frowning. She had spent days, lying uncomfortable on the stiff sofa in the hidden room of the memorial to Sirius Black, memorizing profiles while her death was being planned. Caspar had been a pureblood bloke who had been a good friend to Marion during her Hogwarts year although they only recently came across each other again. Had they known one another longer, then perhaps he might not have been fooled by Molly’s almost childish attempt to be someone who she was not. His profiles had been relatively short, and she was just about certain there weren’t any Death Eater connections to him. Even though she would hesitate to admit it, Molly was somewhat fond of the childish man who liked to stick his tongue out at her, and she didn’t want to know he was just as horrible as them – the Death Eaters. “Any why would that be?” Molly asked, not certain if she was reading too much out of absolutely nothing but the ramblings of a drunken man.
Caspar looked taken aback as if he had just realized the implications of his words. It had been a slip-up, after all. “Nothing, Marion.” He said quickly, suddenly more sharp, his eyes looking right into her. She felt chilly. Go with your instincts, James had told her.
“Caspar,” said Molly sternly, starting to stand up with her throat clenched up just as her throat would have clenched before she cried. Of course, Molly knew she wouldn’t cry.
“Nothing!” He exclaimed, pulling away from her with wild eyes. Everything seemed to move a little faster, and she felt hot. It must have been one too many shots.
.“Alright, it’s nothing,” she said soothingly with a sense that she wouldn’t get anywhere with his eyes looking like a man gone mad. Just as she said this diplomatically, he chose the perfect timing and passed out, finally peaceful “Mggrrhhh,” she groaned, helplessly turning to a hovering waitress who watched Molly anxiously. “Do you think you could help me with him?
When she turned back to gesture at Caspar, she found that he had disappeared right in front of their eyes. Unbelievable at first, but after fifteen minutes of interrogating everyone (it was hard to do with no one sober) she gathered only the innkeeper and the waitress had been actually watching at all. The innkeeper insisted he had looked away to talk to his customers, and the waitress looked just as befuddled as Molly, saying over and over again, “-was right there! I know he was! It’s all gone a little foggy, but he was right there!”
It was just the same for Molly. The whole moment seemed vague, almost begging her to forget it, but when she got home she wrote on a note sheet with big letters, “CASPER PASSED OUT; VANISHED” to make sure she didn’t forget. It was all very strange. She felt guilty, but this was the first time something happened, and she was thrilled. But it was incredibly frustrating that now that something happened, there was nothing she could do. She rolled over on her bed, contemplating the scene from earlier that evening. Domenic would have thought up a thousand theories in the space of a minute, but that didn’t matter. He thought she was dead. Her whole family, besides James, thought she was dead.
In a way, Molly in a body that did not belong with her really was dead.
Molly closed her eyes and fell asleep, crying invisible tears.
“Oh, are you really totally sure?” Alexis anxiously asked with only half her body visible in the flames from their brief call. Despite how many times she saw this sort of Floo call, she never really could get over how queer it looked.
Molly nodded solemnly. “I am.”
“But…” The other woman hesitated, biting her lips nervously. Molly had no idea how a nervous witch like Alexis Le Dahl had ever befriended the powerful Marion. It really was a wonder, but they were apparently the best of friends.
“What have you discovered, Alexis?” Molly said urgently.
Alexis’s words came out in a stream. “Oh, well, see, I offered him a chocolate, and you do know how Caspar loves chocolates. I went over to ask him on the agreement for Bulgaria, so he was all, ‘thank you, Lex,’ the way he is and kissed my fingertips which was really all lovely. Except I know and you know that Caspar loathes chocolates in a hangover. He didn’t look like he was out last night, but he had to be because you told me you two were going out and couldn’t meet me for tea.”
“He passed out last night.” Molly told her quietly while trying to process in the new information herself. “I saw it. He was talking very loud, tripping over his feet, quite ridiculous…” She drifted off, looking hopefully at Alexis to see if the witch had any ideas on this.
“Marion,” Alexis said slowly, “Caspar doesn’t trip really. When he’s like that, he’s not completely on his feet, but he doesn’t trip too much. And he rarely yells. He’s a chatty drunk, really, and a bit of a hot-tempered one.”
Her heartbeat stopped for a second. At least, that was how it felt. She was so stupid for not having noticed it earlier. She sunk to the floor, meeting Alexis’s gaze wide-eyed. “He was faking.”
Alexis nodded in agreement, but her eyes were somewhere else. “Caspar always was a good actor. Remember the Hogwarts plays we used to pull off?” Not off the top of her mind, but Molly could recall them if she dug in her memories enough. It was a good thing that Alexis was as absent-minded or she would have definitely noticed something changing in her best friend. Unlike Caspar, Alexis had known Marion every step of the way. Molly snapped back to attention when Alexis continued. She sighed nostalgically, coming back from her dreamland to complain, “We’re so old!”
No, that wasn’t true. Alexis and Caspar were thirty one with Alexis a few months away from being thirty two. Molly was quite younger at twenty-seven and did not at all consider herself middle-aged, Marion was thirty one though. They were so old according to Alexis, but she wasn’t one of them. And she never wanted to be. Even though she adored Alexis’s absent-minded chatter and Casper’s eager laugh, she couldn’t let herself get attached. All the best had failed because they had. “I don’t feel grown-up, not really.” Molly confessed.
“Don’t you?” Alexis asked. “Well, I’ve got a theory about that.”
“Go on,” Molly said with a flutter of a smile.
“See, we never really do grow up. Even the people we consider all grown up aren’t really, and we are all just kids running around in grown up suits trying to keep track of everything until we end up tripping.” Alexis explained with her eyes wide and her hands flying about everywhere to demonstrate her theory.
She closed her eyes and clenched her fists to her side. Alexis’s words were like a stab at her side, a remainder of all that was lost. They were all just pretending. A game at being all grown up. She stepped back from the fire and walked away, choking back tears. Her throat felt like she was trying to swallow something down but couldn’t, and she was wobbly all over on the verge of stumbling to the ground. Exactly what had that meant? Stumbling to the ground. It could mean anything. Until they ended up tripping. Had Molly already tripped, ending up pretending to be okay? Was it that, or was the worst still waiting to come?
Now she was in the loo, perched at the end of the tub with her head resting against the cool wall. Everything was hot and spinning and she didn’t like it. She had liked her share of the glamor, and she had stomached through her share of the pain. No one could forget it. They were her people. It was different. It was different from sitting back and working through plans. There were screaming, and she couldn’t save all her children, all her people. When she fought out there, they were her people. And every time she had cried when she couldn’t save them until she had stopped crying. She had told Domenic this. He had told her he would cry for her.
He must have cried for her one last time. When she had died.
When Molly held the flask of potions up in the air, surveying it with calm interest. That was the way she had seen it the first time. The second time it had been with disgust and the third with certain wariness. Now it was just indifference. This potion had saved the lives of her parents, her relatives, but it could be her cause of death. No one would recognize that she was not Marion at first even if she forgot. They looked so alike that it had sickened her. The real Marion was somewhere, kept safe by James. They had never met, but she supposed it would be like meeting one’s twin. They looked identical in the photo. But they had nothing in common,
Molly took a sip, her eyes closed. She didn’t want to see herself change ever so slightly in the mirror. She could feel it. It depended on the person – this potion. Her aunt had told her that Uncle Harry’s had tasted like gold, but Uncle Harry said this one bloke’s tasted absolutely disgusting. The potion tasted cold, and she wanted to choke it up, but it didn’t taste bad. It just tasted wrong. Perhaps that was because Marion was wrong without being bad. That, or Molly was just reading too much of it. Her insides clenched, cringing away from the feeling of everything that made Molly herself on the outside changing.
Eyes opened. Molly had disappeared again. She wanted Molly back.
Molly wanted to live again.
It didn’t help that she was missing three months of her memories.
But God knew she would do anything for her son. Even die. Or pretend to.
Hey - so I finally have this up!
I just want to thank Sam [TheHeirOfSlytherin], Brielle [iheartzuko], and Wendy for really helping me out,
Anything familiar belongs to JK Rowling but plot and OC's belong to me.
Do review if you can - it really makes my day!