Chapter 1 : Waiting
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The waiting room was crowded. Some people sat shoulder to shoulder on the spindly chairs that lined the walls while others meandered about the room’s limited floor space. Though they each came from different backgrounds and for different reasons, one thing held them together in a common embrace. Their commonality, a heavy and sombre tension that weighed on each of their distracted faces.
A plump, elderly witch with flyaway grey hair stood in the middle of the room. Her knobbly arthritic hand clutched the head of the wooden cane on which she leant heavily. The sterile smell of the ward stung her nose, and the overhead incandescent lighting shone much too brightly for the mood that hung in the air. She blinked her baggy, brown eyes and glanced up at the clock that hung over the door. It had been three hours and twenty six minutes since she had arrived in the waiting room outside of the Derwent Dylis Ward for Medical Emergencies. Three hours and twenty six minutes ago, the receptionist at the front desk had told her that a healer would be out to speak with her shortly. She sighed, and a swarm of anxious ants scurried under her skin.
Four hours and twelve minutes after she had walked away from the front desk, a healer picked her out from the crowd of people mulling about the waiting room. He was young, young enough to be one of her grandsons. She couldn’t help but envision the blonde man as a child, playing dress-up in an oversized healer’s robe, and chided herself for it. Louis had graduated from Hogwarts with Healer Kingston and had assured her that he was the best healer in his ward. She looked down at her stiff, bent fingers and the tips of her knitting needles sticking out from the top of her carry bag. Who was she to discriminate against age?
“Mrs. Weasley?” His voice was warm. It washed soothingly over her like warm bathwater on a chilly evening. “I’m Healer Kingston.” His hands were firm and clean, and his handshake instilled a glimmer of confidence into her numb mind.
“Ma’am, why don’t you walk with me?” She followed him through the door he had walked through and into an empty, poorly lit hallway. Several chairs lined the walls on either side. She could feel his hand on her back guide her to one of the chairs. “Now, Mrs. Weasley, I think you should sit down.”
The severity of his voice froze her heart, and his choice of words hit the bottom of her stomach like a lead anchor. How many times had those words been her words? She was certain that she couldn’t count the range of emotions she had brought about by those very words in her lifetime, but she was certain that they had never instilled such a horrible feeling of dread as now claimed her heart.
“That’s it, just sit down.” Her knees bent.
Henpecking and tinkering is a lovely combination.
It was what they had been best at for the past fifty eight years, and so it was no surprise to anybody to see Molly standing in the Burrow doorway with her hands on her hips, shaking her head amusedly at her husband and Arthur at the top of a rickety ladder straining to adjust a long metal pipe that stuck up from the roof of the garage.
“Arthur Weasley. Dinner is going to cool off while you play with that pipe.” She wiped her hands off on her apron in large exaggerated motions. “And I won’t hear a word of it if your gravy is cold.”
“Molly. This isn’t just a pipe.” His crystal blue eyes stared incredulously down at her. “This is an amtenna. For the Tellyfission. And if you prepared dinner, even cold gravy will taste just fine.” He returned his attention to the metal contraption on the roof. “If I could just reach a bit further, then I could –”
Molly’s mouth pulled up into a smile at her husband’s compliment. She was certain that his offhand manner of complimenting her would never fail to flatter her. She watched the thin, grey man teeter at the top of the ladder and gasped as he lost his footing for a moment.
“Arthur. You’re going to kill yourself up there. Do you actually need to figure this contraption out tonight? George will be here tomorrow with the kids, I’m sure he can help you then.” He continued working as though she hadn’t spoken. She rolled her eyes and walked over to the base of the latter and held onto it. “Please be careful, I can’t eat all of that dinner by myself.”
“Molly, I’ll be just fine. I just have to turn this thing here and twist that knob there, and –” He stretched up on his tiptoes, before grasping his back and crying out. Molly hurried to help him down from the ladder and into the kitchen, before another back spasm attacked him.
“Arthur, I think you should sit down.” He grimaced and lowered himself gingerly into a kitchen chair, rubbing his pulled back the entire way down. “Well, it’s fortunate that you let the dinner get cold while you were fussing outside. It looks like you’ll be needing an icepack.”
The chair was hard and confining, her head was light and she was only vaguely aware that Healer Kingston was standing next to her.
“Can I get you some water, ma’am?” His voice was soft.
Together, all bad news is manageable.
The world had finally slowed to a manageable pace. The guests were slowly beginning to disentangle themselves from the delicate decorations and overturned tables. At long last, the night was no longer riddled with the sounds of spells whizzing through the air.
Molly bustled through the tables, checking that everyone was safe. Nearly everyone was accounted for, and to her great relief, nobody had suffered any serious injuries. The only casualties appeared to be several folding chairs, the wedding cake, and one table. She sighed, and stole a moment to locate her family amongst the chaos.
Glancing outside the tent, Molly spotted Bill and Fleur. The newly weds were on their feet with their wands drawn, vigilantly standing guard with several other members of the Order. She shook her head, this was no way for a wedding reception to unfurl, and clicked her tongue disapprovingly against the inside of her mouth. Charlie stood near Arthur; the two men were immersed in conversation. Fred and George stood on either side of Ginny. Each twin had one hand protectively on their baby sister’s shoulder and the other on their wands. Ron was no where to be seen, and she knew that he had gone. Her heart sank, skipping a beat, Harry and Hermione were surely gone alongside her youngest son. Molly fought back the tears that welled up in her eyes and scurried to her husband’s side.
Arthur looked up at the sound of her approaching feet. His eyes widened at the stricken look on her face. “Molly, dear, what’s wrong. Is everyone alright?”
“Arthur,” Her voice trembled, “I think you should sit down.”
He ignored her suggestion and closed the distance between them, pulling her into a tight embrace.
“It’s Ron, Arthur,” the tears now freely ran down her face. “He’s gone. Harry and Hermione too. They’re all gone. They’re just children, Arthur.”
She could feel Arthur swallow roughly against her forehead. He tightened his arms around her and pressed a kiss to the top of her head. There were no appropriate words to be spoken.
“That’s it. Drink up.” Dr. Kingston’s voice floated languidly through her ears. She looked down. A cup of cool water was clasped in her hand.
“Thank you,” She murmured, bringing the cup up to her lips.
Good news is preceded by better kisses.
Molly stood at the kitchen sink, washing a large mixing-bowl by hand. The manual labour helped the time to pass less slowly. She had been waiting anxiously for Arthur’s return since she had crawled out of bed that morning and had been passing the time by any means that she could. The cake she had mixed up was baking on the hearth. The beginnings of a blue knit blanket were hanging over the back of the rocking chair. Every room in their large crooked house was scrubbed and tidied.
She set the bowl aside onto the sink board and looked at the clock. One of its two hands pointed at ‘Home,” the other at “Traveling.” Her heart leapt up into her throat, and a large grin crept over her face. She hurried into the hallway off of the kitchen to check her reflection in the mirror. Her vibrant red hair curled haphazardly around her shoulders. She tucked a few wayward strands behind her ears and jumped when the kitchen door opened.
Peeking around the corner, she saw her husband standing in the room. He hung his cloak and pointed hat on the back of the door. Molly smiled widely and rushed forward, throwing herself into his arms. She pressed an anxious kiss against his surprised lips.
Arthur’s eyes twinkled as he stumbled back against the door. “Molly, er, to what do I owe this warm welcome?”
“I’m just happy to see you, dear.” She pulled his head down and captured his lips in a deeper kiss. Arthur did not protest, and she could feel him smile into her lips.
“Mrs. Weasley, I think you’re going to have to come upstairs and help me change out of these robes.” Arthur muttered coyly into her ear.
“Arthur,” she playfully pushed him away and giggled. “Not now. I need to talk to you about something important.” She grabbed his hand and led him into the sitting room.
“What’s this about?” He followed her hesitantly. “Is everything alright?”
Molly pressed her fingers to his lips and came to a stop in front of the sofa. “Now Arthur, I think you should sit down.”
“No, Molly.” He looked nervous. “Please just tell me what this is about.”
“No. You have to sit down first. I’ve been rehearsing this all day. I won’t have you mucking it up.” She tugged his arm down and sat next to him on the sofa. “Good. Now,” she picked up his hand and placed it on her flat abdomen. “I’m pregnant. We’re going to have a baby, Arthur.”
The smile that lit her face was infectious. Arthur rose off of the sofa and picked Molly up, twirling her about the room. They were going to be parents. The cake was left forgotten, burning in the hearth.
The cool water seared her throat, but as long as she kept drinking it, Healer Kingston wouldn’t begin talking to her. It was peculiar. Five minutes ago, she was dying to hear an update from the hospital. Now, she was dreading hearing it.
“Now, Mrs. Weasley, I need to speak with you about your –” She forcefully tuned his voice out of her ears.
Nerves are a sign of caring.
Molly stared at Arthur incredulously. They were stowed away in their compartment on the Hogwarts Express. It was their final trip home on the scarlet train, and Arthur was hunched over kneeling on the floor.
“What in Merlin’s name are you doing down there, Arthur?” Molly giggled and ruffled the boy’s bright red hair.
“Oh, erm, I’m ah, I’m just looking for something. I thought I saw a quill roll under this bench.” His face flamed a shade of red brighter than his hair. “Yes. That’s it. I’m looking for the quill.”
“I see.” She eyed him suspiciously. He was sweating, his face was blushing and he could not keep himself from fidgeting. He was nervous. “I didn’t see a quill.” He looked up at her face and had to force his mouth shut. She had caught him in his lie.
“Oh. Well, I must have been mistaken. I could have sworn that I –” His voice trailed off, and Molly couldn’t guess what Arthur could have sworn.
“Arthur, I think you should sit down. You look silly on the ground.”
Arthur blinked up at her, but made no attempt to sit down. Instead, he cleared his throat and took a deep breath. “Molly Prewett, I’m kneeling on the ground because I was planning on asking for your hand, not because I saw a quill. My nerves just botched everything fairly well.”
Molly blinked at him and debated whether she had heard him correctly; she had never heard him speak quite so quickly. She could feel her smile reach her ears. “Well, Mr. Weasley, as far as I’m concerned, that whole quill bit never happened, and you just now dropped onto your knee, if you’d like another go.”
Arthur laughed. “You’re the best.” He reached up and grabbed both of her hands and stared into her brown eyes with his crystal blue eyes. “Molly Prewett, I’d be honoured if you’d take me to be your husband. Now that school is finished, I can’t imagine living a day without you, will you marry me?”
Tears bleared Molly’s vision, but she could feel her head nod in agreement and Arthur’s arms close around her torso. They were to be married.
“Now, Mrs. Weasley, I need to speak with you about your husband, Arthur.”
Molly’s head snapped up at the mention of her husband’s name. Her heart fluttered waiting for the young Healer to tell her how he was doing; she couldn’t help but feel a tiny surge of optimism.
“You did the right thing bringing him into us straight away like you did. Upon examination, we discovered that he had suffered from a very serious stroke. We worked on him for over three hours, but we were not able to save him, there was just too much damage.” The Healer paused.
His words rang in her ears. She could not comprehend what he was telling her.
“Ma’am. Arthur died, I’m very sorry. Is there anyone you would like us to Floo for you? Would you like to come into the exam room and say your good byes?”
Molly was paralysed and dumb. Her eyes could not even muster the strength to cry. Arthur was dead. The man she had shared each waking thought and every sleeping dream with for seventy-odd years would never again smile at her or eat her cooking. She closed her eyes, for now, she was sitting down.
A/N: Hope you enjoyed this sad little fic. I wrote it under a week long deadline, so it's not wonderful or anything near that. If you'd leave me your thoughts on it, I'd love to read them. -xx-
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