EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN
Arthur Weasley stood in the doorway between the kitchen and the living room, and watched his wife. It was so unusual to catch her sitting still like this. She was always moving. Doing at least two things at a time. Sometimes it exhausted him just looking at her. He had certainly long given away the idea of 'keeping up'. It had taken him a while to realize that she liked his calmer, more sedate pace. That she didn't resent his ability to get lost in what he was doing. That she admired him his contentment and stability. The early years had been tough. All those babies, so close together. Money was tight. Time was tighter. He'd felt as though he was keeping her from the life she deserved. But she said she only wanted him, and that enough was as good as a feast.
A feast indeed.
It helped that one of the things he could get lost in was her. Molly Prewett. When he was focusing his attention on working out her mood, or the source of her anxiety. Or what would make her gasp or sigh. More complex than any fascinating piece of Muggle gadgetry. This witch he'd married was puzzle enough to keep him occupied for the next hundred years. And he could only hope they did indeed have that long. The Prewetts and the Weasleys were both fine strong stock. Now that He Who... Voldemort ... was out of the way, he had every hope they'd grow well past their century together.
It wasn't too difficult a puzzle to work out what was occuping Molly's mind now. So much that her knitting was still in its basket beside the sofa.
The album open across her knees was clue enough.
Molly had begun her collection of Newspaper and magazing clippings many years ago when she had saved - and then hidden - the Daily Prophet Article describing the attack that had left her brothers dead and her parents in mourning. Arthur suspected that she had set a Search and Find charm in place to any mention of the names Weasley, Potter, and Granger in the various Wizarding Publications.
There had been any number of articles to collect since the birth of the latest grandchild had become public knowledge. He had seen her rescuing several pieces after they'd been torn from the paper, scrumpled into a ball and flung across the room in disgust by members of the family. He wasn't sure it was a good idea to keep all the sordid scraps, but Molly insisted that it was an important record. For the future. And maybe the child herself would want to read it all one day.
It had taken Arthur more than a few moments to truly accept that Harry and Hermione's daughter was as much his grandchild as Little Charlie, Bobby and Jack, Laurent or Amelie. He had smiled with his face, but felt only a blankness inside when confronted with their bliss. But then he'd seen Ron reach over Harry's shoulder and stroke the shock of black hair off the tiny little face, and lean in to embrace his friend. Arthur had felt chastised. Knowing that Ron was just as thrilled with this baby as any other, and realizing he himself had truly been happy to call Harry 'Son', it had all fallen into place.
The obvious affection and.... intimacy... between Harry and Ron had been confronting. It was one thing to accept in the abstract, but quite another to get one's mind around standing in front of you with arms wrapped around each other.
Arthur had heard whispers that Bill had experimented a little with some of the lads at school, and he never was quite sure what the nature of his relationship had been with Elijah - Bill's flat mate in Egypt. Molly had hinted a few times that they were more than 'just friends', but as there had been nothing unusual with the pair when they had holidayed with them, he'd put it out of his mind. Elijah had been very polite and showed them around Cairo. Seemed very 'up' on the local Quidditch league, so Arthur hadn't given it another thought, really. Though now he wondered what had become of the boy. Fleur had come onto the scene and all traces of any other dalliance had disappeared in her wake.
No. It was a good thing. Harry and Hermione both had needed a family in more ways than just words. And Arthur was more than happy that it was now a fact. Watching Ron's Harry struggle back from the brink had heartened him. Given Arthur the push he'd needed - the inspiration - to try and find his joy again.
He had seen Harry hold his granddaughter in his hands, his face nearly consumed with an exquisite shock. Arthur had decided that he needed to be here to see this.
And he was needed. To help this growing family negotiate their way through the reception that they were facing, as the public that had only recently fawned over them, and revered them, turned and began to try and crush them with their petty hatreds.
Molly, of course, was taking it all terribly to heart. He needed to be here for her, too. He couldn't leave her to cope alone.
Tonight she sat, bathed in the familiar golden light of the Burrow. The glow of it fell across her hair casting an illusion, just for a moment, that her hair was golden red, and not faded ginger with a generous sprinkling of grey. He ran a hand through his own thin whisps and smiled indulgently at her. Just at that moment, Molly lifted her face and, noticing him, patted the sofa next to her. With a grimace she motioned to the Witch Weekly open on her lap.
"This Edgecomb girl. Definately a bad egg. I knew her mother. A Marchcroft. All cut from the same cloth, that lot."
"Having a go at Harry again? No more "Win a Kiss" competitions now I suppose."
Molly held the magazine up as he took his place next to her, to show him a photo - not particularly flattering - of Hermione next to a headline asking "War Hero or Seductress?".
"Poor girl. I hope she doesn't see it."
Arthur deliberately didn't make a comparison to the last time Hermione had been victim to the poisonous quill of a gossipy writer. He knew there was no reason to bring up the children's fourth year of school, as Molly had never forgiven herself for being so easily taken in.
"Well, the boys are checking the mail and have stopped all their subscriptions. We can only hope."
With a flick of her wand, Molly briskly and neatly cut the offending article out and slipped it into the album before closing it with a softthwump. She leant over and rested her head on Arthur's shoulder. "She's taking it all far too seriously. She's tired - as must be expected, and she was so down when I was there yesterday. I tried to tell the boys to cheer her up." Molly leant her head back so that she could peer up at Arthur, knowing what he was about to say. "I know, I know. They won't thank us for interfering." He chuckled quietly in her ear. It was so lovely to hear him laugh again. She had missed it so much.
"They are both doing well, don't you think, though? The boys."
"Oh those two! Happy as crickets," she replied. "Ron’s working too hard, of course. Proving himself to the club. But Harry is so chuffed with Miranda. Bless him." It warmed her heart to see the way a light had been switched on inside her surrogate son. Her heart had ached for him for so long. As difficult as it had been to watch the three charge ahead into uncharted waters with their relationship, to throw aside so many of the accepted conventions that she had never questioned her whole life - it was worth it, she decided. Worth it to see Ron so sure of himself. So comfortable in his role of protector and lover, husband to both Hermione and Harry. To see Hermione grow into such a lovely young woman, with that beauty about her that only a woman who is truly loved can have.
It was worth it all to see Harry smile.
She let one hand fall on Arthur's leg, and tucked herself in, closer to his side.
Arthur placed his hand over hers and she squeezed it gently as he kissed her neck, just behind her ear. She gave a soft sigh of contentment. Arthur shifted beside her and then Molly felt herself being pushed back a little further into the cushions.
"Arthur Weasley. We have a perfectly good bed up one flight of those stairs."
"And a perfectly good sofa right here underneath us now." Arthur chuckled. "We can blame the existence of the twins on this sofa!"
"Oh, and wouldn’t they just love to know that. They’d never set foot in the living room again."
A smile passed between them as they looked at each other, and remembered.
"I’ve missed you, Arthur."
"I’ve missed you, too, my Molly. I’m sorry I let you down."
"Oh, don’t say such a thing." Her voice was nearly a whisper. "I just didn’t know how to help you."
"You did help me." Arthur bent down and placed his lips over hers and kissed her gently for a moment. After all, he wasn't the only one to have lost children. This remarkable witch had struggled on. Showing nobody but him the anguish she felt as she grieved her only daughter, and the lost years of reconcilliation with her son. The idealism with which he viewed the world was forever scarred now. But it wasn't gone. Not altogether. "You always help me. Just by being here. By being you."
And then they didn’t speak for a while. Instead they lay back in the comfort of the faithful old couch, and remembered some more.