Molly Weasley is a demon knitter. Whenever she has a minute to herself, out comes the knitting, needles flying and clicking and the yarn almost dancing as she gets on with creating yet another of her semi-legendary jumpers. The patterns are all there in her head, instinct telling her when to knit and when to purl, where to put the colours and how to weave in the design she is thinking of for whoever the intended recipient might be. She doesn’t like to use magic much, declaring that it settles her mind to have something to do with her hands, and when you’ve got six sons, a daughter and a husband all out getting into trouble, she says, her mind needs a lot of settling.
So each of those who makes her worry gets a jumper for Christmas every year, a sign of her love and her worry, an unspoken plea not to get into too much trouble over the following year. And with six sons, a daughter and a husband, that’s a lot of knitting.
She’s added to her list of People To Worry About over the last few years. First it was Harry, of course, little orphaned Harry Potter with the awful relations, that boy needed a mother to look after him all right. Molly knew she couldn’t take the place of his real mother, but she had known Lily Potter well, and she was damned if she was going to stand by and watch Lily’s boy go without a proper family for even a moment longer than she had to. Harry has had a jumper for Christmas, lovingly knitted by Molly, every year since his first at Hogwarts. Some years she’ll put his initial on the front, especially if she’s just knitted Fred and George’s almost-matching pair and still has letters on the brain. Once she put his wand, and another year a portrait of Hedwig that was so realistic – if she did say so herself – that one might almost have expected it to move.
Then there was Hermione, who has lovely parents but works too hard. Not to mention that Molly doesn’t want Hermione’s Muggle background to mean she has to miss out on all the fun that could be had as part of a wizarding family. Quidditch in the garden, kicking the gnomes out of the petunias, and of course, one of Molly’s jumpers to unwrap at Christmas time. Hermione gets jumpers in soft pinks and blues, baby-fine wool that fluffs under the fingers and colours that bring out that peaches-and-cream complexion that the silly girl hasn’t even noticed she’s got; a little bit of softness and femininity for the girl who works too hard, thinks too fast, and has no idea how pretty she is.
Once the Order started up again, Molly found herself beginning her Christmas knitting earlier than ever. Not everyone had a jumper, that first year, they were all still feeling their way back to the camaraderie of fifteen years ago, and Molly wasn’t sure, initially, who she most needed to worry about. Sirius Black got one, though, because he’d spent so long with nobody to worry about him, nobody to send him jumpers or sweets or other small comforts, just because they cared about him – almost all his life, really, except those few bright years at school; and because he needed something to keep him warm, after all those years in that horrible, cold prison cell. And so did Remus Lupin, because all his clothes were so worn and threadbare and he himself was so tired and ill and lonely; there was another one who was sorely in need of a mother. Molly remembered those two from last time, those two boys worn thin with the tensions that were pulling them both apart inside, clinging onto each other but very close to breaking completely. She had been much younger then, but somehow she had found herself playing the role of mother to the Order, fussing over them all, making sure they were fed and cared for and worrying about them in every waking moment. It’s a role she has slipped easily into again, a role she was born to play.
Her jumper list grows longer every year. Young Tonks gets one in as many colours as Molly can find in her ever-expanding stock of wool, in the hopes of at least one or two of them not clashing with her hair or her eyes at any given moment. Molly started with hers the year she was moping around over Remus and mourning for Sirius, reckoning that the poor girl needed a little bit of colour back in her life.
Moody gets a scarf, because somehow jumpers don’t quite seem to be the right thing for him. She makes it extra-long, so that he can wind it round his neck and tuck the ends inside his coat, and she adds a pocket in each end for him to keep important things in, just in case. She thought about making a scarf for Kingsley, too, but ended up going for a jumper after all, a nice dignified one in deep jewel colours that fits his personality and complements the burnished ebony of his skin.
She debated for a moment, when considering Severus Snape. But then she remembered the boy he had been, lonely and unloved, his only friend the kindly Lily Evans, and she reasoned that he must still be in there somewhere, underneath the forbidding austerity. Molly trusts Dumbledore and Dumbledore trusts Snape, and so she knows that somewhere in there, there must still be a tiny craving for the care of a mother. Everyone needs a mother, after all, even Professor Severus Snape. So he gets a jumper too, in a deep emerald green, because he wears far too much black. She keeps the design plain, but she does knit a tiny white lily inside the collar, as a remembrance of his friend. He won’t wear it, she knows, but she hopes that he will understand the message it bears.
Dumbledore gets a jumper, of course, every year; he’s one of the few who wears his with enthusiasm and pride, and long after the mince pies are gone and the festivities are over, the world settling down into yet another long, dull, cold January. He confides to her every year without fail, once he’s had enough to drink to make him forget that he’s told her this before, that throughout the winter he wears one of her jumpers under his robes, to keep him warm in the draughty corridors at Hogwarts. Molly is not a smug woman, but she always feels just a little flash of satisfaction when he beckons her aside with a wave of his severalth glass of firewhiskey and imparts his little confession.
Molly knows that most of her loving creations will go unworn, at least beyond the first politeness of Christmas morning. Lupin wears his, though, and she’s been making extra ones for him, sneaking them into his wardrobe when he isn’t looking, jumpers and cardigans to keep him warm and remind him that he’s loved. She thinks she’s caught Sirius in his a couple of times, when he’s been pacing about that awful house at night, arguing with his mother’s portrait and trying to curse his family tree. Born into the wrong family, that one, and doomed to suffer for it, but Molly will do her best to make it easier for him.
But most of them will be folded, neatly or otherwise, and shoved to the backs of their recipients’ wardrobes, kept because they were gifts, and handmade ones at that, but never worn, never serving the purpose for which they were made.
Except they’ve already served their purpose, for they were never just garments to be worn. They are tokens and messages, symbols of Molly’s care for her friends and her much-extended family. They are what keeps her going through year after worry-filled year, and every single one represents yet another set of demons banished by the neverending clicking of her needles and the flying of her yarn, her heartfelt wishes of love and protection woven tightly into every stitch.