The Harry Potter Universe belongs to J.K. Rowling. I'm just borrowing the characters for a while. This is for pleasure only, no profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.
Bold Face Type indicates a direct quote from Chapter Seventeen, Educational Decree Number Twenty-Four, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
A/N: This story is told from Molly Weasley's point of view and parallels Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and the summer after it.
Molly's favorite month was October. She loved the weather and the changing seasons at the Burrow. She enjoyed harvesting the vegetables from her garden and preserving some of them for the winter. Apple picking time was always special with many happy memories from when the children were young. She also liked to prepare meals that were more substantial as the weather cooled.
With the children back in school, she could usually look forward to her birthday and Halloween. This year, however, everything was different. She had no garden, no chickens to lay fresh eggs, not even a friend to visit. The only outings were to the shop where she bought fruits, vegetables, and eggs, along with all the other food she needed because of the Order members that came for a meeting and a meal. Grimmauld Place was not at all like home.
Because she sometimes was very busy with Order matters, Molly decided that she had better start the Weasley Christmas jumpers as soon as possible. She decided to go to Diagon Alley on Saturday the fifth. Ginny had said that date would be the first Hogsmeade weekend so she thought of the four Hogwarts students and Harry as she Apparated to The Leaky Cauldron.
Molly went to the Apothecary Shop first. She needed to replace some of her Potions ingredients because so many members of the Order were being injured as they followed suspected Death Eaters or kept watch on who was coming and going at the Ministry and other places of interest. Molly sighed, thinking how accident-prone Tonks was. She must have used half a bottle of dittany and a whole jar of the yellow bruise paste on her legs alone. She got some arnica, as well. Arthur says that Muggles used it a great deal. Perhaps Sirius would move the elephant leg umbrella stand up into the attic.
Molly always loved to go to Ye Little Lamb Shoppe. She remembered visiting it when she and Arthur were just married and with Corrine when Ceddie was just a baby. She bought six pair of self knitting needles along with wool for each of the children and Harry. She decided that she'd make Sirius and Lupin warm scarves and hats for Hermione and Tonks. The Gryffindors always liked red and gold but she'd make a hat for Tonks in her favorite hair color, bubble gum pink.
Just before she Apparated back to Grimmauld Place, Molly bought a bunch of sunflowers from Posey's Petals. She missed her garden and hoped that there had been enough rain at the Burrow to keep everything from dying. She also worried about her chickens. They could eat insects and what plants they could find but might not survive the winter. Who knew how long they'd have to stay at Grimmauld Place?
When Molly climbed the steps and came into the entry hall with her potion ingredients and the supplies from the wool shop, Sirius was waiting for her.
"Did you get everything you need?'
'Yes, and I thought the kitchen could use a bit of cheering up,' she said indicating the big bunch of sunflowers.
'Harry sent a very short note with Hedwig saying that he needs to talk again. Would you get Professor McGonagall to open the Floo connection in the Gryffindor common room again?' Sirius looked troubled. 'What about close to midnight on Monday again?'
'Minerva will be here tonight. Perhaps the three of us can arrange it. She needs to know if something is bothering Harry.'
Sirius gave his bark of a laugh. 'You're right as usual, Molly.'
Molly arranged the sunflowers on the kitchen table and started a stew to serve that evening after the meeting of the Order. She never knew how many people would be staying for dinner but stew was always better on the second day anyway.
Minerva agreed to open the Floo connection so Sirius would be able to talk to Harry on Monday night around midnight. 'I can't keep it open all the time because the other students would misuse it. I imagine Neville Longbottom would contact Augusta nearly every day about something he had forgotten or misplaced,' she said with a sigh. 'Be very careful what you write. I have reason to believe that our new Grand Inquisitor is intercepting messages both coming and going. I will try to warn Harry about not signing anything.'
Sirius got a hard cold expression on his face. 'That toady of Fudge needs to be stopped.'
Molly and Arthur discussed the interception of messages to and from Hogwarts that night as they lay in bed having a cuddle before they went to sleep. 'We must get word to the children to be very careful about what they write about Umbridge. She is a vicious person who is sure to crush anyone who opposes her,' Arthur said with conviction.
'I wish we could protect the children more. I guess we will have to wait and see if they heed Minerva's warning.' Molly kissed Arthur but made no move to turn over and go to sleep. She needed to feel safe from all harm and being in Arthur's arms was the safest place she knew.
At breakfast the next morning, Sirius presented Molly with a Wizarding Wireless receiver that Tonks had bought for him to give Molly as an early birthday present. 'Tonks says that there is a Days of Destiny marathon on this morning so I wanted to give it to you early.'
Molly was touched and began to cry. 'Oh Sirius, I've listened to Days of Destiny since I was a little girl sitting on my mother's knee. All of the children know that it's my favorite program. How can I thank you?'
'It is I who must thank you for all you do, my dear Molly. You are the one who makes this god-forsaken dump a home.' Now Sirius had very glistening eyes. 'I must go catch some rats for Buckbeak,' he said. 'Enjoy your program.'
Molly put the radio up on a high shelf, snapped it on and tuned it to the main WWN station. Then she began to assemble what she would need to bake several loaves of bread while she listened to the five weekday episodes. She was pleased to find out that nothing much had happened in the more than two months she had been unable to listen. Lord Lyle seemed to have regained his memory, but his voice was still not the same as she remembered. His love child from an early entanglement with the evil twin of his first wife's sister was just about as evil as he and her mother combined. She was plotting world domination using the Galleons in his secret off shore bank accounts. Molly listened to the entire marathon while she cooked and drank tea. When she heard Nic Meath saying to 'Tune in at the same time and same station next Saturday,' Molly decided to ask Arthur if he could get a message to Kate and Nic through Arnie Peasgood.
Arthur and Sirius joined her for roast beef sandwiches for lunch just after the final episode concluded. Arthur said he was delighted that Molly was 'plugged in' again, although the wireless didn't depend on being plugged in at all. She asked him if he could let Nic and Kate know that she was safe. Arthur agreed that Arnie would be the best go-between.
That evening, Mundungus Fletcher came to tell Sirius something important. They conferred for quite a while in the kitchen, drinking bottle after bottle of Butterbeer. When Mundungus left, Sirius said, 'Molly and Arthur, it is essential that you know that the children are taking matters into their own hands. Mundungus overheard them talking about forming a secret illegal defense group.'
'A secret illegal defense group?' repeated Molly. 'Are you sure? How could Mundungus hear the children talking about that?'
Sirius nodded. 'Mundungus was in disguise as a veiled witch at the Hog's Head. He heard everything. Fred, George, Ron, Ginny, Hermione, and Harry are the ringleaders. They have to meet in secret because that Umbridge woman has banned all groups.'
Molly grew very stern. 'Listen to me very carefully, Sirius. 'When you talk to Harry on Monday night, tell him to tell my children on no account whatsoever are they to take part in an illegal secret Defense Against the Dark Arts group… They'll be expelled for sure and their future will be ruined… There will be plenty of time to learn how to defend themselves later and they are too young to be worrying about that right now.' Molly paused. 'Please advise Harry and Hermione not to proceed with the group. I'd write all this to them, but if the owl had been intercepted they'd all have been in real trouble. I can't say it for myself because I am on duty Monday night. I never thought my children would ever be in that dodgy Hog's Head!'
Arthur looked back and forth between Molly and Sirius, who was scribbling notes on a piece of used parchment. 'Are you sure that the children wouldn't be better off learning some counter curses to defend themselves?'
'Think of the danger they'd be putting themselves in.' Molly sounded like she would brook no argument on this matter.
'I'll repeat your exact words to Harry, Molly. I'm sure he'll be willing to pass on your concerns to the rest of the children.' He looked beyond her to Arthur who was sitting with his head in his hands.
Arthur did not say any more to Molly but nodded and smiled at Sirius before he led Molly up to bed.
There was no further discussion the next day because Sirius sent word that he thought he was coming down with a cold and stayed in his room all day. He was still resting Monday evening when Molly left a plate of sandwiches outside his door and went off to her watch at the Ministry of Magic.
Molly slept in on Tuesday morning after being up all night crouched under Mad-Eye's Invisibility Cloak. When she came down at lunchtime, Sirius was sitting moodily at the kitchen table.
'Did you give my message to Harry?' she asked.
'Yes, I talked to Harry and Ron and Hermione, again,' replied Sirius. 'I repeated what you said word for word. Hermione agreed with you completely.'
'I'm so relieved,' said Molly. 'Are you sure they'll not try to have a secret organization?'
'I am not sure of anything except that conditions are very dangerous at Hogwarts. Someone tried to grab me while I had my head in the Floo!'
'Dolores Umbridge!' announced Molly. 'She's trying to cut the children off from the outside. She may stop them from writing home.'
'Harry's owl was injured bringing him my message.'
'Not Hedwig! Is she all right? Merlin, will she stop at nothing to stifle dissent?'
Molly listened to her new radio almost every day. She hadn't realized how much she missed Days of Destiny and Bedside at St Brigid's until she could listen again. Healer Molly O'Malley, the character that Kate Wallace played, was working with spell-damaged children at St Brigid's and advising their parents to teach their children simple defensive spells. Her reasoning sounded a great deal like Sirius. 'These are perilous times,' she told them. 'We must all learn to defend ourselves. There may not be an Auror when you are attacked.' Molly thought about Harry casting a Patronus Charm to save himself and his cousin. She wished she could talk to her old friend Kate or to her childhood friend Corrine. They might help her think of what was the best thing to do about the children thinking that they were not learning what they needed to learn about defending themselves this year.
Molly began to be sure that Umbridge had placed an absolute ban on sending letters home when she heard nothing from Hogwarts for the next three weeks. Then, two days before her birthday, three letters came without addresses while she and Arthur and Sirius were eating a late dinner. They were carried by a very wet and cross acting strange owl. Molly gave him some owl treats and showed him where Errol's water was. He settled down and went to sleep immediately. Then she began to read the one that she could tell was from Fred and George.
Happy Birthday! TO THE PERSON WHO HAS A BIRTHDAY SOON.
We don't have any news. EXCEPT THAT WE CAN PLAY QUIDDITCH AFTER ALL.
We will give you an extra present when we come home for the Christmas Holiday. WE ARE NOT GOING TO STAY OVER THE HOLS THIS YEAR.
Someone here reminds us of Auntie Muriel. ON A BAD DAY.
Love and LOVE
'The twins can convey a lot of information without writing much of anything,' Arthur said.
Molly nodded and opened the letter written in Ron's scrawl.
I am not doing as well in the game that I love but I think we will still beat the team that we don't like at all. We hope it won't rain. It has rained a lot lately but we are doing lots of things inside.
Your other children are busy, too. The one who is like my brother says 'Happy Birthday.' So does our friend who is the friend of my sister.
Have a Happy Birthday.
'They seem to be following your advice about not writing anything that could give away any information,' said Arthur. 'What does Ginny say?'
Molly opened the last letter. 'It is mostly a drawing with FIGHT FOR THE RIGHT at the top and HAPPY BIRTHDAY at the bottom. It looks like witches and wizards duelling. I wonder why Ginny would draw that? Along the bottom edge in teeny tiny writing that I can barely read it says — Give my love to my favorite uncle.'
'Her uncle?' said Arthur in surprise.
'It's a little joke between Ginny and myself,' explained Sirius. 'She calls me her favorite uncle and I call her my favorite niece.'
'Molly, I'm sorry that there is no way to have a big celebration for your forty-sixth birthday,' said Arthur sadly.
'We could invite Remus and Tonks and have dancing after dinner. We have a radio now so we can get dance music,' suggested Sirius.
'Capital idea,' said Arthur. 'Maybe Bill can come and bring the French girl he is teaching English to. We have so little to celebrate this year.'
When Arthur came home the night before her birthday, he was carrying several large parcels. 'These are for you,' he said as he put them down in front of her.
Molly opened the biggest parcel. "They are pots of chrysanthemums!'
'They're from Kate and Nic.' Arthur handed Molly a card that wished her a happy birthday and said that they knew she must miss her garden at the Burrow.
'Do you know what is in this long one?' asked Molly, pulling the wrapper off.
'It's from Florian Gardener and he calls it a Grow Light,' said Arthur. It's a Muggle one that he has charmed not to need eckeltricity. Plants will grow inside with this shining on them.'
Molly was delighted and put the pots on the sink counter with the Grow Light hovering above them. 'It will give me more light to see if the dishes are clean, too.'
'Bill came by today and gave me this for you, Arthur said, handing Molly a small package. 'He and Fleur had already promised to go to a concert with some of their co-workers. She is not in the Order so he couldn't have brought her here anyway.'
Molly opened the small box and admired the sparkly earrings. 'I'll say this for her; she has a fine sense of color. I wonder when we will actually meet her?'
The night of Molly's birthday, the five friends ate roast beef and a birthday cake that Tonks had asked her mother to make. Andromeda and Ted sent a nice bottle of red wine along with the cake and their best wishes. 'They said that we will all celebrate next year at the Burrow,' said Tonks as she raised her glass to Molly.
'I hope so,' said Molly. 'I really hope we can go back to the Burrow soon.' Everyone drank to that.