Molly moved along the dining table, arranging the chairs around until she felt satisfied. But no matter what she did, it made no difference. Setting the table for a rather large number of people was an ordinary task that Molly was no beginner to. Her own family comprised of nine people, and during the holidays, Molly did the job every single day. She used to have such fun in the evenings, humming along as she did her cooking. Even when she was spending time at Grimmauld Place, she always looked forward to dinnertime. However, preparing for the first Order meeting after Sirius’ death just seemed strange.
The number of chairs rendered an uneasy feeling; it just didn’t feel right. She knew that there would be one more empty chair this time. Although Snape, Dumbledore and a couple of others weren’t attending this meeting (Dumbledore apparently would drop by later, long after dinnertime), there still should’ve been at least eleven people attending the meeting, if Sirius was alive.
If Sirius was alive…
With utmost frustration, Molly wrapped her fingers tightly around the side of the chair. Her fingers put so much pressure on the smooth wood surface, until her knuckles became white and her green veins were showing up. She pulled the chair out, and slumped into the seat. Clasping her hands together, she stared into the distance, trying to rid all the horrible feelings away. But wherever she looked, the whole house reminded her of Sirius. Guilt seemed to be eating her heart away, when she thought of how she used to disapprove of Sirius’s attitude.
All she ever did was argue with him. Perhaps if she had been more civil towards him, he would’ve found life at Headquarters more comfortable, and maybe, just maybe, he wouldn’t have rushed off to save Harry. If she hadn’t restricted him so much, maybe he wouldn’t have died. Who was she to nag him when she herself hadn’t been able to fight directly against Voldemort’s army? Sirius, on the other hand, had died fighting against them. She had no right to have ever grumble or find faults with him…she had no right at all…
A soft thud echoed from the doorway and Mrs. Black began ranting away again…
“FOUL TRAITORS…CAUSED THE DEATH OF MY SON, THE ONLY BLACK LEFT…BET THEY’RE PLEASED NOW THAT THERE AREN’T ANY MORE PUREBLOOD BLACKS LEFT, SUCH TRAITORS…OH, HOW-“
The voice stopped in mid-sentence. Molly got up and headed across the kitchen, only to be greeted by Remus and Tonks.
“Sorry about that…I accidentally tripped over,” Tonks replied sheepishly.
“Don’t worry about it. The problem’s fixed, she’s quiet now,” said Molly, trying to keep a calm tone. Her voice came out strained and tense.
“Yes, but I’ve been trying to find a way to get rid of that portrait permanently. I have yet to find it. I’ll keep working on it though, I believe there must be a way…Merlin, I really can’t stand that woman anymore,” Remus said. At this point, he turned away, trying to avoid the gaze of Molly. His eyes were slightly moist, and he didn’t want anyone to notice it. But she saw through him; he wasn’t coping well with it either. Nobody was, especially Remus. Molly could remember how close Remus had been to Sirius…
“They’ll be arriving in an hour’s time. I’ll help you out with the dinner preparations, if you haven’t finished it,” said Tonks.
“That’s alright. I’ll manage. Just feel free to arrange the table a bit…I don’t think I did a very good job with that,” Molly’s voice quavered.
Dinner still had to be made. They still needed to eat, no matter how hard Molly found cooking a simple meal was. She had to be strong, for her family and for the Light side.
She began muttering the appropriate spells, and as she did so, her eyes travelled across the room, to where Tonks was.
Tonks hair was a short black bob, and her outfit was a dull green. Usually, Tonks would spread contagious warmth when people was around her; her jolly, happy-go-lucky attitude never failed to put a smile on people’s faces. Her usual pink hairdo was also noticeable absent. Molly observed that Tonks didn’t have an enthusiastic stance that day.
Taken aback, Molly jumped out of her skin, and whirled round. Remus was examining the kettle on the stove. He lifted it up, and Molly cried out when she saw that its bottom was as black as charcoal.
She gasped. “Oh, no! I don’t know how I managed to forget to fill it with water. I was—”
“Don’t worry about it. Just…just be careful next time. Would you like any help here? Maybe you should take a rest. You look tired, Molly,” Remus said, his eyes full with worry.
“Listen to him. Have a rest; I’ll take care of dinner.” It seemed that Tonks had heard Lupin’s shout, for she was just standing behind Molly. Molly was in such a trance that she probably wouldn’t have noticed if Hagrid suddenly appeared beside her…let alone someone of small stature like Tonks.
“But-” Molly started to protest.
“No buts, Molly. Don’t overwork yourself. I’ll help Tonks, just in case. So don’t worry, okay? And we’ll call you when dinner’s ready.”
Sighing with defeat, Molly nodded, took off her apron, and walked to the living room. She didn’t have Moody’s swivelling glass eye, but she could sense that Lupin and Tonks’ eyes were on her. She could feel them boring a hole right through the back of her head.
She rested her head back against the couch, and shut her eyes. She could hear a few pots and pans clanging about in the kitchen, but apart from that, the atmosphere was still and silent. But although her eyes were closed and in a relaxed state, the lines on her forehead were etched clearly—they were the wrinkles and worries that developed over the years, and very soon, it would increase, and form even deeper creases.
Molly was slowly slipping into a state of unconsciousness…
A little black dog is running around Harry, dancing on two legs. It looks so contented to finally be free…yet, she stares at the dog, with a disapproving look on her face…
The scene changes, and a younger version of herself now stands in the lounge of her house…
“But I want to fight too. I don’t see why I can’t! I’m already of age, I just graduated last week! Why can’t I fight with you?” she says, her arms in a fold and her mouth in the form of a frown.
“You’re still too young to fight, Molly. We’re at least older than you by a year…and even though you’ve left school, the Order is very dangerous. Mum didn’t want you to join it, for very good reasons. Now, we’re going to fight…and we’re not afraid to tell you, even we’re scared of what might happen. Just…take care of Mum and Dad, okay? Hopefully…we’ll be able to come back soon…” Fabian leaves his sentence hanging.
“He’s right. None of us want anything to happen to you…and Mum’s health hasn’t been too good all the while, so we need you to take care of her,” adds Gideon Prewett.
“Now, now, what are you all arguing about? Molly, can’t you let your brothers go off without another quarrel?” says Henry Prewett, as he walks up and puts his hands on his daughter’s shoulders.
“I know I should take care of Mum, but I want to fight too! I should’ve joined the Order!”
“Now, Arthur didn’t join though, did he?” replies Henry.
“We have to go now, Molly. We may be back to see you get married…”says Fabian, with a slight grin on his face.
With that, her brothers Disapparate, and Molly is left with a huge amount of worry and fear in her heart. She had heard a lot about Voldemort and his Death Eaters, yet she isn’t allowed to join the Order of the Phoenix. She fears for her brothers’ safety, but all that she can do is to hope…
Two days later, she meets her brothers again, only this time, they are unable to speak to her in their usual cheerful brotherly tones. In fact, they can’t speak at all.
Two corpses lie in front of her. She is told that they died as heroes, that they fought bravely against the merciless Death Eaters. Five Death Eaters were needed to kill them. Her brothers had always been courageous people, and they would forever be remembered for their heroic deeds. They died protecting the Light side.
But when Molly stares at the pale face of Fabian and the gashes on Gideon’s cheek, with the dry flakes of blood staining his face, she can’t stop the tears from running down her face. She vows to join the Order, so that she can avenge her brothers’ deaths. She would take revenge, she would fight against the Death Eaters and Voldemort. She clutches Fabian’s tattered robes and sobs into it, soaking it with her tears.
This is the last time she would ever see them again…
In a flash, the images of Fabian and Gideon are gone, and Molly finds herself staring at her son, Ron, on the floor. Ron is sprawled on the carpet, and the moonlight streaming in from the windows illuminates his face, illustrating the fact that he is clearly dead. As she sobs, Harry rushes into the room—
Molly jerked awake in fright. She could feel the cold sweat trickling down her face. The crash of the plate in the kitchen echoed throughout the house, and rang loudly in her mind. But another voice suddenly pierced through the echo…
“DAMNED BRATS! AS IF THEY AREN’T CONTAMINATING THIS PLACE ENOUGH, THEY MAKE A WHOLE LOAD OF RACKET! THIS ISN’T THEIR HOUSE IN THE FIRST PLACE, THEY DON’T DESERVE TO LIVE HERE, FILTHY TRAITORS! SOMEONE CAN’T EVEN HAVE PEACE IN HERE—”
A minute later, Remus entered the living room, with a look of concern on his face.
“So you are awake…I was hoping that you wouldn’t be. But I suppose that her shouting is a bit too much, isn’t it? I have to find the solution as soon as possible,’ he paused. ‘I’m sorry that you didn’t have a good rest. Do you want to perhaps nap a bit longer? The others have actually arrived and dinner will be ready in a few minutes, but you can—”
“No, it’s fine. I’ll help Tonks out, she’s not doing too well, is she?”
Remus managed a little smile, which seemed to light up his face, making him seem less weary. It wasn’t often that he smiled.
“I guess we all have to learn culinary and kitchen skills from you. We’re not too skilled at it as of now. Handling plates seems to be a tough job.”
“I’ll be happy to be of assistance. The others are probably very hungry by now, I don’t want them to starve,” Molly said, as she followed Lupin out.
But her mind was still disturbed by the memories of Sirius and her brothers, and the visions of her sons. It seemed as if Voldemort was keen to upset her whole life. Yet, she didn’t even dare speak his name. How ridiculous! She had once thought of killing him and his minions, but she now shivered whenever she heard the name. Well, at least she was in the Order now.
Everyone was already seated at the table; Moody, Kingsley, Charlie, Arthur, McGonagall and Mundungus. Tonks and Bill were helping to serve the food.
Arthur was having a discussion with Charlie and Kingsley, McGonagall was speaking in a low voice with Moody while casting disapproving glares at Mundungus, who seemed to have dozed off. Something was bulging under his cloak. Molly suddenly remembered how she used to dislike Sirius and Mundungus, and constantly bickered with them.
She wouldn’t let history repeat. Whether Mundungus was odd or a crook, or just plain dodgy, she wouldn’t treat him like she did before. Who knows, something might happen to him anytime, and she would regret if she hadn’t been nicer towards him. So, she refrained from commenting on Mundungus, no matter how strong the temptation was.
Tonks and Bill slid into two seats opposite Arthur and Charlie. Remus quickly ushered Molly into the empty seat beside Arthur, and whispered to him, ‘She seems very tired, and just had a short nap. Keep an eye on her.’
Suddenly, Fred and George Apparated right at the bottom of the stairs.
“We know, we know. We’re not allowed at this meeting, right? But we came down only to get food. We’re hungry, you know,” said Fred.
“But we don’t mind if you’re too busy to get us food. We can just help ourselves while you guys discuss your stuff. We don’t mind at all,” added George, with a cheeky smirk on his face.
“You know that you’re not allowed, boys. Your mother has had a tiring day. Please don’t put any more pressure on her,” Arthur piped up.
“Fine! We said we’re only here to get food, didn’t we?” they argued back.
“I’ll get the food…but don’t you even dare try to use any Extendable Ears or any of your strange devices to listen in. You will only be of age next year,” Molly said, her stern motherly voice back in play.
Once the twins Disapparated, Molly’s strong demeanour diminished.
“Do you think that I’m…I’m too harsh with them?” she turned to Arthur.
“No, Molly. Don’t worry yourself too much. Like you said, they’re not of age yet. It’s for their good,” Arthur replied.
“But-what if…what if something h-happened…and their last image of me is a bossy mother scolding them every minute? What if-”
“Listen to Arthur. They will be fine, and they know that what you’re doing is only because you care about them. Calm down, Molly,’ Remus said, ‘Maybe you should take another rest. Arthur, -”
“No, no, I’m fine. Just silly old me again. Sorry for causing such a fuss, I shouldn’t be like this. Sorry…now let’s continue on with dinner, shall we?” Molly picked up her fork and knife, and everybody else followed her lead.
Molly tried munching a cabbage leaf, but it tasted and felt like cardboard in her mouth. She quickly swallowed it and she felt it collide with the lump in her throat; the lump of guilt that had formed itself there ever since Sirius’s death. She choked, and Arthur hurriedly dropped his utensils to check what was wrong with her.
Her eyes were watery, but whether it was due to choking on the food, or whether it was because of her inner emotions, Arthur couldn’t tell. Molly drank a sip of water, but the lump was still there, refusing to budge.
Arthur looked anxiously at his wife and suggested that she take a rest, but she wouldn’t listen. Throughout the course of dinner, Molly managed to chew and swallow a little bit of food, but barely tasted anything at all.
The whole table was quiet, with the exception of the clinking and clanking of knives on plates. Suddenly, a voice broke the silence.
“These roast potatoes are bloody tasteless!” complained Mundungus.
Everyone along the table stared at him. He continued, “What? Can’t you taste it?”
McGonagall cleared her throat. “If we can eat it, so can you. We think it’s perfectly fine. For goodness sake, don’t be so picky, Mundungus. If you think you can do a better job than Molly, go and cook then. She has had a hard day already.”
A voice piped up from the other side of the table, “Um, actually, it was me who cooked the potatoes. Molly was taking a nap just now. And, uh, it’s my first time cooking an actual dish, so…well, sorry.”
Mundungus glanced at the embarrassed Tonks, and because everybody else was glaring at him, he said, “Don’t worry then. I was just wondering…it’s, er, not too bad for a first-timer.”
The remainder of dinner passed uneventfully, and although a couple of the dishes had quite a flat taste, nobody made any comments. They knew they were lucky enough just to be able to have another dinner; Sirius didn’t even have that chance.
Fred and George are lying on the floor, both motionless. Their mouths are wide open in shock, and blood is trickling down the sides of their faces, and onto their shiny dragonskin jackets.
“NO! NO! IT CAN’T BE, NOT FRED AND GEORGE!” Molly screams.
Molly awoke and sat up with a start. Once again, there was sweat around her forehead. She buried her face in her hands, while quietly weeping.
“What’s the matter, dear?” Arthur placed an arm around Molly’s shoulders, trying to hush and calm her down.
“Oh, sorry, did I wake you? I-I just had a bad dream, that’s all. It’s nothing, really, don’t worry.” But her sobs and cracking voice was enough to let Arthur know that she was not alright. The strong barrier that she always tried to put up in front of everyone was utterly gone, and what was left was the real, emotional, tired Molly. The years of age, the years she had spent raising all her children, was showing through.
“You’ll think me silly, dreaming about such ridiculous things. I…I dreamt of seeing our children all dead; Arthur, I didn’t tell you this last year, but I-I couldn’t even get rid of a Boggart because it kept changing into these images of deaths. Remus had to rid it in the end. And now…after Sirius is gone…I’m starting to have dreams of Gideon and Fabian, and of our children once again…I’m afraid that they’re going to die, like Gideon and Fabian…I’m really—”
“Why didn’t you tell me earlier? But don’t worry, dear, nothing will happen to our children. We’ll all be fine. Remus said the Order is much more prepared now. Don’t be so hard on yourself…”
“But if they fight against Voldemort, I’m really scared that those images will become real…”
“Hush, now, I said don’t worry. Don’t be silly, nothing of the sort will happen. You’re just scaring yourself…now go to sleep and stop thinking about it.”
Molly leaned on her husband’s shoulders, feeling thankful that she had something to rest on. But she could feel him shaking as well, and she knew she had just added more worries for him. She was well aware that he was thinking along the same lines as her, worrying about their children…worrying about what this second war would do, what Voldemort would do.
But she had to be strong, to be strong for her children.
The good deal of tears she had shed, and sharing her thoughts with Arthur, had managed to give her a soothing feeling…and soon, she fell asleep.
For the first time in a few weeks, she slept soundly.
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