Disclaimer : I own nothing, it all belongs to J.K.Rowling. I’m just borrowing the characters to play with for a while. This is for pleasure only and no profit is being made.
Molly Weasley bustled about the kitchen of number twelve, Grimmauld Place. She always liked to keep busy when she was upset; it helped her build up her rant. She and her family had arrived at headquarters a fortnight ago, only a week after Ron and Ginny had returned from Hogwarts for their summer break. Now that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was out in the open, and the Ministry had admitted his presence, the war had begun in force. Attacks on Muggles were happening with alarming frequency. The Dark Mark hung in the sky like times past, sending fear and loathing into the wizarding population. The terror was mounting, but, thankfully, they had avoided full-fledged panic.
Molly was doing her best not to dwell on times past. She could vividly recall the terror of the First War and was filled with dread at the thought of going through that hell again. Her family, the Prewetts, had lost several members during the First War and they’d never recovered to be what they once were. Molly had thrown herself into her own family. She had a flock of children to raise and wanted them to grow up as far from the horrors she’d witnessed as possible. But that just wasn’t meant to be…
Two weeks ago, someone had attempted to breach the wards at the Burrow, forcing Molly and her children to flee in the night to the safety of Grimmauld Place. None of them were happy about being here, but she and Arthur agreed that it was safest for them to stay. Arthur, Molly, Ron, Ginny, Bill and the twins had all taken up residence, as they had last summer. Charlie was still in Romania, working for the Order but removed from the danger. And Percy…
Molly didn’t like to dwell too much on Percy; it made her heart grieve to think he’d chosen his ambition over his family. After an entire year of attempts at reconciliation, he was still estranged from them. Despite the change in stance on Voldemort the Ministry had adopted, Percy stubbornly insisted his family went about things in the wrong way and should never have so openly opposed the Ministry. Percy was too deeply enthralled with Fudge at the moment, and Fudge was scrambling to salvage his shattered reputation.
Whenever Arthur passed him in the halls at the Ministry, Percy always looked away or pretended to be reading whatever he held in his hands. Any owls she sent were returned unopened, and Molly was at a loss for what to do to mend the situation. She could see the hostility in her other children towards Percy. She knew if ever the time came when he wanted to mend fences with his family, Percy would have a much harder time repairing the damage with his siblings. Ron, particularly, seemed to be holding a grudge. None of them wanted to talk about Percy or a possible reconciliation with his family.
Even if Percy ever did go back, he wouldn’t find any of his family at the Burrow anymore. It was being watched, however, so she knew Percy hadn’t attempted to make contact. Percy never knew his family had to flee in the night, or that his childhood home was now such a target. No, staying at the Burrow was out of the question. So the tattered Weasley family was once again away from home and living at the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix.
So far, they hadn’t been able to learn what specifically had been planned at the Burrow that night. Their spies definitely knew Death Eaters had planned the attack to either look for Harry or at least try to determine when he would arrive. She cringed a little as her thoughts turned to the boy she considered one of her own. He’d been through so much in his young life already. The thought that he was suffering alone now made her want to break down and cry.
She knew what it felt like to lose a member of your own family. She knew the pain, the hurt, and the agony of that loss. There was no way Harry should be going through it alone.
She was waiting for Professor Dumbledore to arrive. She was angry with him at the moment. Arabella Figg, the Squib who lived in Harry’s neighborhood, had called in with a troubling update after she’d had Harry over for tea. He was very thin and had a defeated look about him. She suggested they get him out of that Muggle house as soon as possible; when she’d tried to talk to him about leaving the Dursleys, he only replied that he would not return to Grimmauld Place. He wanted to go to the Burrow. He’d stay with the Muggles before he went to the Order’s headquarters again. This tore at Molly’s heart.
Of course, she knew he’d prefer to go to the Burrow to coming here. This had been Sirius’ home, and only dark memories would remain for poor Harry. The Burrow had been a source of enjoyment for him. It offered an escape from his horrid relatives, a chance to be a normal kid. For Harry, it was the chance to be part of a loving family, if only for a little while. Molly had known that was what he needed the first time she had seen him alone on platform nine and three-quarters, even before she had known who he was. The neglect nearly radiated off the child. Harry had grown better at hiding it as he grew older, but Molly could still see it there.
She’d asked all of her children to write to Harry and try and draw him out, forbidding them to tell him where they were. He was under enough stress as it was. Ron agreed with her, saying Harry would just blame himself as he blamed himself for everything else that ever happened. Molly knew he’d be blaming himself for Sirius’ death, too, but didn’t think anyone could ever convince him that it wasn’t his fault. His vision of Arthur and the snake had been real, and thank Merlin Harry had acted on that or she didn’t like to think what would have happened. Though she would never condone those children leaving school and nearly getting themselves killed in a battle with Death Eaters, she knew Harry’s heart was in the right place and how much Sirius death must be eating away at him now.
She was furious with Dumbledore for leaving Harry to grieve alone with his awful relatives. She understood it was for his own protection, but what about his emotional protection? Though she may have had her own issues with Sirius, she knew Harry loved him and in his way, Sirius had adored Harry. It wasn’t right, or fair, or just that Harry should have to lose that, too. He’d basically been orphaned for a second time and, despite all her pleas to the contrary, Dumbledore wasn’t budging on where Harry was to remain. She suspected there was a lot more going on between Harry and Dumbledore than the old wizard was telling, and she was terrified by what that might mean.
She so wanted Harry and her own children - for she knew they’d follow him - to be able to remain children. They should be worrying about classes, and dating, and Quidditch matches, not Death Eaters, and Dark Lords and hidden prophecies.
It was that dammed prophecy! They’d spent a year guarding it and she still wasn’t sure of what it said. She knew it somehow involved Harry, and the thought terrified her. It was obvious to her that Dumbledore cared very much for Harry, and she didn’t try to deny it. She could see he was worried when the agents he had tailing Harry reported the boy’s listlessness and drawn appearance. She also had no doubt that, regardless of how he felt about Harry personally, Dumbledore would use Harry as a pawn in the greater scheme of things.
What Harry needed was an advocate strictly in his own corner. It was what Sirius had been, and she fully intended to take on that role. Harry needed someone to put him first, and he needed to know there was someone there for him , and him alone. What he needed was a parent, but she knew that was impossible. He was too old now to accept anyone in that role openly, but she had every intention of quietly being a surrogate. She already looked at him like a seventh son; she’d just continue including him with Ron and Ginny. When she sent them owl post at Hogwarts, she’d send Harry one, too. Someone needed to step up and help Harry adjust to all that was happening to him.
There was always such sadness behind Harry’s eyes that tugged at her heart. She longed to try to erase some of it. She feared what kind of condition he’d be in this year when they finally got him. His time with the Dursleys always left him with such a closed, defeated look about him that usually took a good bit of time and attention to change. This year would be so much worse. She feared that the more time he spent with his cursed relatives, the harder it would be for the Weasleys, his real family, to reach Harry. He’d retreat too far behind his walls with his own demons. Molly was afraid they might not get him back this time.
In all the years she’d known Harry, despite everything he’d been through, she’d never seen him cry. He’d come close after the Third Task, and she knew he’d nearly broken, but still he held it back. It was this, more than anything else they had done, that made her hate the Dursleys. They had made Harry learn not to cry. What his childhood must have been like…but she didn’t like to think about that. And so she cooked. Cooking helped. Cooking was something to do; it had a beginning, an end, a clear objective and a set of rules. She continued to cook as she waited for Dumbledore to arrive.
The door to the kitchen banged in and her youngest child bounced up to her, her ponytail swinging behind her as she walked.
“Mum?” Ginny’s voice was tentative.
“Are you crying, Mum?”
“No, no. Just so dusty in here is all. No matter how much this place has been cleaned, the dirt never seems to come out.”
“I know, Mum.” Ginny’s voice was quiet.
“Did either you or Ron hear from Harry today?”
“No, nothing yet.”
“I’m worried about him. I just wish he’d send one of us something, anything.”
“I do, too, but you know Harry; it’s typical.”
“He’s not all right, Ginny; I know it in my heart. He’s not all right at all.”
“Well, he won’t be able to ignore us for much longer,” Ginny said, sounding irritated. “Dumbledore will have him here, and we can all gang up on him if we have to.” Ginny bit her lip as if she wasn’t entirely sure if what she was saying was true. It warmed Molly’s heart a little, knowing her daughter was simply trying to make her feel better.
“I don’t know if he’ll be here, Ginny. He doesn’t want to come back to this place. He told Mrs. Figg he wouldn’t be coming here,” Molly said gently. She knew Ginny was trying, but didn’t want either one of them to get their hopes up.
“So he’d rather stay with the Muggles? His memories there can’t be any better!”
“He’s grieving, dear; it doesn’t always make sense.”
“Well, wouldn’t it be better to grieve here, with people that actually care about what he’s going through?”
“Of course it would, Ginny, dear. I completely agree with you. Unfortunately, it’s not me, but Harry, that needs convincing of that.”
Ginny turned and left the kitchen, determined, somehow, to make her mother at least feel better about this whole bloody situation. Harry might be in pain, but he wasn’t allowed to make her mother cry.
She headed up the stairs, tiptoeing past the covered portrait of old Mrs. Black. Ginny had never met a more horrible woman in her life. Poor Sirius. Her mum could yell, but her intentions were always good, and Ginny knew she had her best interests at heart. Mrs. Black was just plain vicious.
She reached the landing where her bedroom was, but crossed the hall and knocked on the door to the room her brother, Ron, was staying in. The room where Harry would stay if he ever made it here.
“What?” Ron’s rude voice sounded from the other side of the closed door.
“Ron, can I come in for a minute?” she asked. You could always get further with Ron if you started out sweetly.
“Okay, but make it fast.”
Ginny opened the door and entered to find Ron lying on his bed reading a Quidditch magazine. Ron’s favorite team, the Chudley Cannons, was on the cover. Even in the photo spread it looked as if they were losing.
“Ron, you haven’t heard from Harry today, have you?” she asked.
“Why do you want to know?” he returned, raising his eyebrows in a way that made Ginny want to whip her wand out and hex him into next week.
Ginny felt her temper rising and she fought to control it. Ron had made no secret that he disapproved of her current boyfriend, Dean Thomas, despite the fact Ron had roomed with him for five years without complaint. It was only now that Ginny was dating him that he suddenly had a problem.
Ron’s not so subtle hints that he thought Ginny should be with Harry were grating on her nerves. It annoyed her that her heart agreed, even though her head firmly squashed that notion. Harry had never paid her any attention. He wasn’t interested; it was time to move on.
She sat down on the bed opposite Ron and bit back the angry retort as she replied, “Because I just found Mum in the kitchen crying about him. She’s worried, Ron. She’s really worried.”
Ron lost the teasing expression and replaced it with one of concern. “I know she is. I don’t know what to do about it, though. Harry won’t answer my letters, and I don’t know what to say to him, anyway. I know how much Sirius meant to him, but I can’t say that I know how he feels. I don’t know what I’m supposed to say.”
“I know. We’ve been lucky enough never to lose anyone so close. Mum says he told Mrs. Figg that he won’t come here, to Grimmauld Place. I hope Professor Dumbledore will try and convince him otherwise, but I’m not sure he will.”
“I’m not sure if Dumbledore can convince Harry of anything these days.”
“What do you mean?”
“I dunno. Something was off between them all last year. Harry wouldn’t go to him anymore like he used to. Then, after everything…after Sirius…I don’t know. Harry just kind of closed up. I thought it was strange that Dumbledore never came looking for him, or tried to talk with him. It was obvious even then that Harry wasn’t handling everything so well.”
“So you think they had a row?”
“I dunno. Something’s going on with them though. And Harry’s not saying.”
“What does Hermione say about it?”
Ron’s ears turned red and a goofy smile spread across his face, causing Ginny to roll her eyes.
“Oi, Ron, I’m over here. Focus,” she snapped in exasperation.
“She says we have to get Harry to open up, that he’ll never do it on his own, so we have to push him.”
“Do you think that will work?”
Ron sighed as his shoulders slumped in defeat. “I doubt it. Harry doesn’t like to be pushed, and he certainly doesn’t like to talk about anything to do with how he feels. I think Hermione might just be setting herself up for a fall with that idea.”
Ginny nodded glumly, pursing her lips. “Do you think the Muggles are treating him all right?”
“I hope so. Bit mental, they are. Did you know that when Fred, George and I went to rescue him before second year, they’d put bars on his window? Had him locked in the room pushing what little food they gave him through a cat flap on the door.”
Ginny shuddered, remembering hearing about that when it had happened. She couldn’t believe his own relatives would treat him that way. That they’d treat anybody that way, but especially Harry. He didn’t deserve that…
“The Order warned them to behave at King’s Cross, though.”
“I know; I was there. I hope they listened. Just knowing what Harry has said about them, I wouldn’t count on it. His letters to the Order are still coming every three days, and he says he’s fine.”
“Yeah, but those letters all say the exact same thing, and they are never addressed to anybody. It’s very strange.”
“Yeah, well…that’s Harry. If things were really bad, he’d say he was fine. If things were going okay, he’d say he was fine. If things were going really well, then you’d get some information. All we’re getting is that he’s fine, and that could mean anything.”
“Well, something’s got to give. This can’t go on all summer. It’s not good for anyone, least of all Harry.”
“I’ll try sending him another letter tomorrow. There’s a good article in here about the upcoming Quidditch season; that might perk him up. Was Mum really crying?”
“I can’t stand seeing her this way. She’s so upset; Ron, I’ve got to do something,” she cried, throwing her hands in the air.
“What? What can you do?”
“I don’t know, but I’ll think of something.” With that, Ginny jumped off the bed and left Ron’s room. She crossed the dark, dimly-lit hallway and entered her own room. She’d painted it yellow, trying to brighten it up some, but it didn’t really help. Nothing seemed to help; this house just radiated drab. No matter how much they all scrubbed, cleaned, dusted, or painted, the somber darkness still remained. Somehow, Ginny could hear Mrs. Black’s ghostly laughter echoing in the hallways over it.
A/N: Special thanks go to my old beta ChaoticK; and my new beta, Mistral, thank you so much for your help in getting me over my exclamation point addiction. (See, I wanted to use one at the end of that sentence but didn’t.)