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 Seven, The Slug Club, in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
A/N: This story is told from Molly's Weasley's point of view and parallels Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and the summer after it.
On September first, Molly was surprised when Fleur came down to breakfast with Arthur and the children. Her future daughter-in-law did not usually eat much in the morning. Harry and Ron were the only ones who ate a proper breakfast that morning because both Hermione and Ginny seemed too excited about returning to Hogwarts to do more than nibble at toast. Molly was glad that she had been so stern with Ron and Harry about getting everything ready the night before.
And, in fact,their departure the following morning was smoother than usual. The Ministry cars glided up to the front of the Burrow to find them waiting, trunks packed; Hermione's cat, Crookshanks, safely enclosed in his traveling basket. Harry's Hedwig, Ron's little Pig, and Ginny's new Pygmy Puff, Arnold, were already in cages so it was easy to load their trunks and pets. Arthur handed Molly into the backseat and then he and the Ministry driver loaded the trunk.
'Au revoir, 'Arry,' said Fleur throatily, kissing him good-bye. Ron hurried forward, looking hopeful, but Ginny stuck out her foot and Ron fell, sprawling in the dust at Fleur's feet… He hurried into the car.
Molly gave Ginny a death stare for tripping her brother but she smiled sweetly as she climbed into the car and sat beside Hermione. Harry and Arthur were the last ones to settle themselves in for the trip to King's Cross. Ron and Harry sat silent while Ginny and Hermione whispered to each other about some Gryffindor boy who would be on the train. Molly wondered if it was Neville Longbottom. He had asked both of them to the Yule Ball in Ginny's third year.
They arrived at the station promptly and Molly and Arthur felt that the children would surely be safe on their journey as two grim-faced bearded Aurors in dark Muggle suits moved forward the moment the cars stopped and, flanking the party, marched them into the station without speaking.
'Quick, quick, through the barrier,' said Molly… 'Harry had better go first…'
Harry pulled free of the Auror who had grabbed his arm and went through the barrier. Molly, Arthur, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny followed him through onto the train platform where the Hogwarts Express was waiting. Harry seemed eager to get on the train and motioned to the other students to follow him.
'We can't, Harry,' said Hermione, looking apologetic. 'Ron and I've got to go to the prefects' carriage first and then patrol the corridors for a bit.'
'Oh yeah, I forgot,' said Harry.
'You'd better get straight on the train, all of you, you've only got a few minutes to go,' said Molly, consulting her watch. 'Well, have a lovely term, Ron…'
'Mr Weasley, can I have a quick word?' said Harry, as he began to walk further down the platform.
'Of course,' said Arthur, who looked slightly surprised, but followed Harry out of earshot of the others nevertheless.
Molly watched them while she hugged Ron and Hermione and told them how proud she was that they had been chosen to be prefects. They hurried on to the train, leaving Molly and Ginny both watching Harry and Arthur as they discussed something at great length.
'You'd better get on so you can find a place to sit,' said Molly, giving Ginny one last hug and kiss.
'Someone is saving a seat for me,' said Ginny, still looking at her father and Harry. 'But you're probably right. I see all my dorm mates.' She kissed Molly, cast another glance over to the place where Harry was speaking earnestly with her father, and climbed the stairs to a chorus of greetings from her friends.
The Hogwarts Express gave a great belch of steam and a conductor blew his whistle. Molly turned her attention back to Arthur and Harry. She hurried over to where they were in time to hear Arthur say, ''You'd better hurry…'
'Harry, quickly!' Molly and Arthur helped Harry hoist his trunk onto the train.
'Now, dear, you're coming to us for Christmas, it's all fixed with Dumbledore, so we'll see you quite soon,' said Molly through the window, as Harry slammed the door shut behind him and the train began to move. ' You make sure you look after yourself and—'
The train was gathering speed.
'—be good and —'
She was jogging to keep up now.
As the train disappeared from sight, Molly walked back to Arthur and said, 'You aren't going to tell me what Harry wanted to talk about, are you?'
Arthur got an uneasy expression. 'Nothing that important, Molly. Just a suggestion that we should pay a return visit to Malfoy Manor.'
'Didn't the Ministry just inspect everything there?'
'Yes, but Harry seems to think that there's something we didn't discover. He thinks that the Malfoy boy is up to no good.'
Molly nodded her head. 'I suspect he's correct in that. He picks on Ron and Harry and Hermione. Let's have a cup of tea in that romantic tea shop before we head home.'
Arthur smiled and said, 'Anyplace that I can have a cup of tea with you is romantic.'
Molly and Arthur lingered over their tea and scones and returned to the Burrow ready for a nap.
'I'll wash the sheets and towels tomorrow,' said Molly with a smile as she led Arthur up the stairs.
Tuesday morning, Pig showed up with a note from Ron. Molly fed him an owl treat after she untied the letter from the excitable owl.
Dear Mum and Dad,
It's nice to write a letter without worrying about a Toad getting into it. We are all at school and have our new schedules. Being a prefect is OK most of the time but the meetings are right boring. Hermione loves that sort of stuff. Ginny is acting all flirty around one of my dorm mates. She could do better if she'd just think about it. Harry had some trouble on the way here but Tonks came to his rescue. Professor Snape was all shirty about him being late and Harry already has detention.
Mum, could you get N.E.W.T.-level potions books and whatever potion ingredients we are supposed to have for Harry and me? Professor Slughorn isn't as fussy as Professor Snape so we are taking Potions after all. He loaned us books and let us use school ingredients. Harry is much better at potions with the new teacher. Do you know what Felix Felicis is? Harry won a bottle of it for making the best potion. Professor Slughorn really liked Harry's mum.
Ginny and Harry got invited to be in something called The Slug Club. I think that's good because maybe she will start flirting with someone besides the bloke she was flirting with at the beginning of the train ride to Hogwarts. She's too young to have a boyfriend anyway and yelling at Harry for using a book to make a potion better isn't going to make him think she's nice enough to be anyone's girlfriend.
I guess that's all the news I have.
Molly wasn't sure who the boy was that Ginny was flirting with but knew that Arthur would be more concerned about Ginny having a boyfriend than Ron was. Arthur had forgotten how they flirted when they were in fifth year. Maybe she needed to remind him.
Molly made some of Arthur's favorites for dinner and they began reminiscing about their time at Hogwarts before Molly mentioned the letter from Ron. Arthur sputtered a bit when he read about Ginny flirting but only commented, 'It sounds as though Ron is eager to have Harry and Ginny grow closer.'
Molly nodded, and said, "It may happen before we know it.'
Molly settled into her usual early autumn routine. She enjoyed being outside in the good weather so spent some of each morning working in the garden or with her Walk and Talk group. She and Corrine continued their twice a week dueling practice but did not go into Diagon Alley to eat lunch with Kate. All three women thought there were too many Death Eater attacks and too many reports of Dementors.
Arthur brought home some rather surprising news around the middle of the month. 'Molly,' he said, 'you won't believe who has been arrested for being a Death Eater. Stan Shunpike!'
Molly was astonished. 'The Stan Shunpike that works on the Knight Bus?'
'The very same!'
'He always struck me as being harmless, not too careful with the truth, but not Death Eater material at all.' Molly paused and asked, 'Arthur, what made the Ministry suspect him?'
'Apparently he bragged about being a close personal friend of You-Know-Who in a pub.'
'And they arrested him for that?'
'He's already been tried and sentenced to Azkaban.' Arthur looked worried but cheered up during dinner. 'I have the whole weekend off. We don't have any Ministry raids or Order surveillance. We can make a start on picking the apples tomorrow.'
"Where are all of those red-haired children who used to love to pick apples?' sighed Molly.
Sunday morning while Molly and Arthur were eating breakfast in the garden, Hedwig arrived with a note from Ginny. Molly cooed over Harry's owl and gave her some bacon and toast before she read the letter aloud to Arthur.
Dear Mum and Dad,
I'm Chaser for Gryffindor again. I made the most goals at the tryout. Ron had a hard time keeping me from scoring. Katie Bell is back again and she is very easy to work with. Demelza Robins is going to be the third one. She's new this year but is very elusive when Bludgers are coming at her. Ron was chosen as Keeper because he stopped the most goals. Our Beaters are not as good as Fred and George but they will do. I think we are going to score a lot of goals and Harry is the best Seeker at Hogwarts so we will win a lot of matches. We play Slytherin first early in November so we have to practice a lot. I hope we have a really good year.
School is pretty good this year. I like the way Professor Slughorn teaches Potions. Professor Snape is better than the Toad was in Defense Against the Dark Arts but that is not saying much. He is still mean to Harry and gives him detention for every little thing. Harry has to go take special lessons from Professor Dumbledore so he is not in the common room much. Hermione and I are a little worried that Harry is convinced that Draco Malfoy is up to something nasty. That's all he talks about except for the old Potions book that he kept when his new one came. It doesn't have any curses on it but Hermione doesn't like him learning things that aren't in the rest of the books.
I went to a Slug Club dinner with Hermione and it was sort of fun. Harry had detention so he couldn't go. Ron is grumpy because he was not invited.
I hope we get a chance to go to Hogsmeade next month. A boy in Ron's year in Gryffindor has asked me to go with him. He is very polite and draws very well. You know how I love to draw.
'She sounds like she is settling in very well this year,' said Arthur. 'I guess she is old enough to go to Hogsmeade with someone who is a sixth year.'
'Remember how much fun it was the first time we went to Hogsmeade together?' Molly giggled. 'You bought me a Sugar Quill and I kept it for three months before I sucked it.' She smiled at Arthur and started to carry her plate toward the house when they both heard Apparation pops.
'Hello, Mum! Hello, Dad!' said Fred.
'We thought we might beg a bit of breakfast from you on this fine Sunday morning,' added George.
'We don't open until after lunch today so we could eat that with you before we go back,' said Fred as he conjured a plate and helped himself to bacon and eggs.
'Is that all of the bacon?' asked George.
'I'll cook you some sausages, ' said Molly. 'And fry you a couple of eggs.'
'You always liked him best,' complained Fred.
'I have the more pleasing personality,' George explained while both parents laughed. Molly went into the kitchen to make more toast and the promised sausages and eggs.
'How's business now that Hogwarts has started?' asked Arthur.
'Not so frantic,' said Fred, chewing on a slice of bacon. 'We actually have time to sleep and think about new items.'
'And test them more thoroughly,' added George, taking a piece of toast off Fred's plate.
'No more trying to figure out a counter-curse while having missing body parts.'
'A definite improvement!' they both chorused. 'Jinx!'
Molly returned with a platter of bacon, eggs, and sausages, as well as more toast. She settled down next to Arthur to enjoy having the twins home.
George summoned the apple butter from the cooler and settled in to eat in earnest.
'Since you boys are home for the morning, how about helping us pick the rest of the apples from the orchard?' said Arthur.
'Will you make more apple butter?' asked George.
Molly laughed. 'As much as you want.'
'I bet I can fill my basket before you can,' said Fred pulling out his wand.
'Loser has to wash the dishes in the sink,' replied George as he started using his wand to pluck apples off the trees and float them over to the baskets.
'That's more like it,' said Arthur. 'They'll be done in no time.'
The weather remained warm for the rest of September and Molly harvested her garden as it ripened. She liked to make jam the Muggle way and sent several jars of raspberry jam off to Professor Dumbledore as she restocked her pantry. She made a dozen extra jars of apple butter for the twins. It had always been George's favorite. It helped the time pass to listen to her WWN programs while she was stirring and pouring jam into jars. Many of the actors on Days of Destiny were either on holiday or had gone into hiding to escape being attacked by Death Eaters. Molly found it repetitious when two of Lord Lyle's most faithful retainers reminisced for an entire week about what had happened during the past year. They obviously knew nothing about his secret love children — identical twins that had been raised separately and concealed from public knowledge.
The plot of Bedside at St Brigid's was convoluted. Smyla, the good twin studying to be a Healer because of her 'saving people thing', was being taken advantage of by tradesmen. She might have a spotless credit rating but was easily duped into paying too much for shoddy goods. This distressed Molly greatly because she prided herself on being a thrifty shopper. The kindly nurse who had raised Smyla as her own was suffering memory loss and unable to recognize her when Smyla went home to visit. She kept calling her Lyla. Smyla could not imagine what that could mean.
Molly and Corrine spent several mornings canning and drying vegetables and fruit for the winter. They were so busy with household and food preparation tasks that they rarely had time for dueling. They promised each other to spend more time doing physical activity in October.
A/N: My usual Beta Trelawney 2213 has many demands on her Real Life time so I am especially thankful for her help in getting this chapter posted. I also owe a debt of gratitude for correcting many typos and other errors to my new pre-Beta bookish327, she of the exceedingly sharp eye. I am using St Margarets' wonderful Days of Destiny with her permission.