Chapter 3 : Arthur
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The apples in the orchard of the Burrow were ripe again, and the grass growing high beneath the tree branches was covered in a thin layer of crisp, golden leaves. Every now and then, a leaf letting go of its place would get caught in the wind, and Molly would follow it with her eyes as it whirled around above everyone’s heads before finally landing gently amongst the sea of green and gold.
A long table had been set up in between the rows of trees, and the glasses and plates on it glittered in the afternoon sun. In the middle of it stood a large cream layer cake and two smaller apple pies. If Molly were to stretch her neck, she would – thanks to her finally caving in and letting Hermione take her to get a pair of glasses – see the squiggly handwriting on the top of the cake: Arthur’s 1st birthday. All around the table, children were running, yowling and laughing, and their parents and grandparents watched with amusement as the little ones kept each other entertained. Across from Molly’s seat at the table, Ginny was just pouring tea into the many cups that were waiting to be filled, and next to her sat Hermione, bouncing the birthday boy himself on her knee.
Molly’s eyes fixed on little Arthur’s round face – the dimples in his cheeks, which he had inherited from his mother Beth, his two front teeth peaking out of his gums as he smiled, and those beautiful blue eyes that were so strikingly similar to Hugo’s. But it wasn’t the boy’s father Molly thought of when she looked into his eyes, but her husband. His eyes had had that exact colour, and Molly had fallen in love with them all those years ago during their nighttime strolls around Hogwarts. Every time she had seen them light up in their years together, she had only grown to love him more; each time he had held their new baby for the first time, when Bill had been chosen for Head Boy, when Charlie and the Gryffindor team won the Quidditch cup… The list of times was endless, and though her husband was gone, his eyes weren’t. Molly could still see them every time she looked at Ron, or Hugo, or baby Arthur, and it was just the comfort she needed when she missed her husband the most.
Harry had walked up to the table, and he was now helping Ginny spread the teacups across the table, after which he straightened up and looked around at the chaotic gathering of relatives that were scattered out all around them, a trace of dejection visible in his facial features. It was not hard to guess what he was thinking; now, once the table was set, began the tricky part – getting everyone to actually come and sit down. His worry quickly turned into relief, however, when Hermione stood up, placed her youngest grandson on Molly’s lap and took on the challenge.
While chair after chair around her got taken, Molly admired baby Arthur with an almost hunger; she stroked his soft, chubby arms and patted his head, which was covered in a thin layer of bright hair with just a hint of red in it. Judged by the hair colour of little Arthur’s older siblings, that red would most certainly take over completely in the coming years, but for now it was no more than a trace, picked up and enhanced by the low autumn sun. As his great-grandmother cooed over him, Arthur reached up his little hands to touch her wrinkled face, her skin that had become too big for her bones, and Molly smiled as she kissed his tiny fingers. She had many children, even more grandchildren and even more great-grandchildren, and each one of them was such a blessing. But perhaps little Arthur was special in one sense – he had been born only six weeks after his great-grandfather’s passing, and the weight of him in her arms, wrapped up in a blanket and his eyes still closed, had been the first thing to actually make Molly feel happy again. After Hugo had announced that he would be called Arthur, she had nearly bawled her eyes out, but she had also realized that it meant that she would still get to use the name in every day life.
“Nana.” A voice woke Molly from her thoughts, and she looked up from the birthday boy’s face to see Albus smiling at her, holding a cake server in one hand and a small plate in the other. “You want a slice of the pie, don’t you?”
“Yes, please,” Molly said with a nod. “Well, it’s your father who has made it, right?”
“Of course!” said Harry from across the table as he poured lemonade into his granddaughter’s glass. “I have promised you to never let Ginny come near that recipe again, haven’t I?”
Molly laughed with him, not minding the fact that Ginny, who was sitting on the other side of Albus’ eldest girl, pretended to be hurt. Truth was that Molly had brought her the recipe many years ago, hoping that her only daughter would help keep the tradition of baking the famous Prewett apple pie each autumn alive, but after one attempt that resulted in nearly burning her house down, Ginny had stubbornly shoved it into a drawer and sworn that there was something wrong with it. Harry, being the better cook out of the pair, had taken it for safekeeping, though, and he had baked at least one every year since. Molly suspected that he only did it because he knew it made her happy, but whatever the reason was, she would never turn down the chance to have a slice.
“Here you go,” Albus said, placing the plate in front of Molly.
“Thank you, dear.”
Hugo took Arthur from Molly’s arms so that she’d be able to eat, and soon enough, everyone was seated, enjoying the dessert and each other’s company. Molly listened to the different conversation’s playing out around her; Teddy and Victoire were talking about one of their twins who had already got in trouble in school, despite the fact that the term had just begun. Lily, Ron and Rose’s son Caelum were in the middle of a heated Quidditch discussion, and Hugo’s wife Beth was struggling to keep their second youngest, three-year-old Bobby, in his seat. Smiling, Molly leaned back in her chair and put down her fork. Normally, happy moments like this one always saddened her in a way, because she didn’t get to share them with her best friend and partner in life anymore. But there was something special about today – perhaps it was the way her grandson Louis winked at her from the other side of the table, the way the birthday boy buried his hands in his slice of cake with a squeal of satisfaction, or the way the September sun fell over them all and painted everything gold. Whatever it was, something kept Molly from feeling that sad sting inside her when she thought of Arthur in that moment, because she knew that he was there. He was there in the way Bill clasped his hands behind his head and looked over the table, in the silly magic trick that George was just teaching one of the children to do, and in the half-concerned, half-amused look on Victoire’s face when she described her son’s latest antic. Arthur was in Percy’s upright posture and in the freckles of the little girl sitting on his lap. He was there in the way Ginny laughed, in the way Rose grinned at her husband’s clumsiness, and in Ron’s way of waving his hands as he spoke, as if to stress the point he was trying to make even further. Perhaps it was true, Molly thought, that she’d never really lose him. Perhaps it was true that when someone’s been in your life for that long, they stick to every little thing in it, and it doesn’t matter if that person disappears, because he’s left his mark on everything. Even the pie, Molly thought as she took another bite of it – in her mind, it wasn’t the Prewett apple pie anymore, but Arthur’s, because it had been his favourite. The orchard wasn’t just a part of their garden, but the place where he had first taught Bill and Charlie how to fly. And everyone at the table was sitting there, in that very moment, all because Arthur had lived. Yes, Molly thought as she looked into the birthday boy’s blue eyes, it didn’t matter how much time would pass, how old she would get or how lonely she would feel some days, because Arthur would never really be gone.
A/N: Thank you so much for reading this story and to those who have reviewed it so far. If anyone has anything to say about, please take a moment to share it with me. Now, I'll officially go and mark it as completed! :)
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