Molly Weasley covered a basket full of banana nut muffins with a red dishtowel to lock in the fresh baked warmth before she looked around her kitchen, making sure she had everything she needed. A picnic basket of steaming entrées and loaves of bread, a jug of fresh pumpkin juice and the basket of muffins. Yes, she was ready to go. She slid the basket over her arm, locking it in place with her elbow before grabbing the picnic basket and the jug of juice.
She left the warm confines of her precious kitchen and began her journey down the road. It was a mile exactly from the Burrow to the cottage and three miles from the cottage to Ottery St. Catchpole. Her feet carried her briskly down the gravel drive; the well-worn path was taken nearly every day.
Her heart ached for the scene she knew she would find upon arriving at the cottage. Her youngest, her only daughter, was in pieces. Her heart was broken and mangled then shoved back into her chest and expected to beat regularly. She knew Ginny wasn’t taking care of herself. She could see the lifeless look in her eyes. The mischievous sparkle that had always been present, the independent glare and the merry glitter were all gone - washed away by the disappearance of the other half of her soul.
She knew what the loss was like. Molly, too, had lost a piece of her soul that day as well. The knife twisting into her chest was only made worse by the funeral service for her second born son. She had been lucky to have her entire family in tact after the war and she had never expected anything like this would have happened. Voldemort was dead. Harry had seen to that. No one remotely expected an attack, but it had happened. They were completely unprepared and that day it cost her three family members: Charlie, her sweet, even-tempered, baby boy; Harry, her adopted son, a boy she couldn’t have loved more if he was born of her own flesh; and Ginny, her youngest, a lifeless shell of who she used to be, dead over a broken heart.
Molly was worried for her daughter’s health as well as James’s. There was hardly anything she could do or say that would soothe the girl’s aching heart. Tears filled her pale blue eyes, but she continued down the path determinedly. Her only daughter needed her.
The quaint two-story cottage came into view over a rolling hill and she hurried up the walk. Ginny’s flowers were blooming somberly in the front flowerbed. A pair of garden shears lay discarded on the narrow path. She glanced down a small alcove where her daughter would sometimes go to sit and mourn.
Her daughter was curled up, the quilt she had made for her as a wedding gift was taut around her shoulders. Ginny was sobbing into her knees and arms, her back wedged against the back of the bench and the arm.
Molly smiled tearfully, set her baskets down and made her way to Ginny’s side. She sat beside her daughter and pulled her into one of her famous bear hugs, holding her as she cried all her tears away. Her heart was breaking with the sniffles and whimpers coming from her daughter. She had sworn before her first was born that nothing would ever hurt them. She would protect them with her life. She would rather die a thousand deaths than have any harm befall her children.
What was she to do? She no sooner could have protected Harry and Ginny than she could have protected Charlie. The attacks were simultaneous. While she and everyone at the Burrow were fighting for their lives, for their home, Ginny and Harry were fighting for theirs. Harry had convinced her to run, to get to the Burrow, to get James away safely, but she was still struck down by a Stunning spell.
“I n-need him,” her daughter’s anguished voice spoke, muffled by Molly’s shoulder.
Molly tightened her grip, weaving her hand in her daughter’s silky hair and cried with her. “I know, baby. I know.”
Ginny stiffened and pulled away, a small, pained gasp escaping her. She immediately grabbed at her stomach, massaging the place that pained her, the quilt sliding off her shoulders and landing on the walk.
“What’s wrong, baby?”
“I-I don’t know. It h-hurts sometimes.” She continued to rub the spot on her lower abdomen, biting her lower lip. The pain was evident across her face. “Is that normal?”
“Is he kicking you?”
Her daughter doubled over, wrapping both arms around her mid-section. “It f-feels like a knife,” she breathed, gasping in pain.
Molly stood up in alarm. That kind of pain was not normal! She knew from complications carrying Ron. Ginny needed to see a Healer immediately so they could correct whatever problem had manifested. “Saint Mungo’s,” Molly uttered, helping her daughter to her feet.
Ginny whimpered as she followed, still hunched over, the pain in her lower abdomen too strong to allow her to stand straight. “Mum, I’m scared,” she confessed in a whisper.
“I know, baby.” She waved her wand at the fireplace to start a fire, then threw in a handful of powder. “Get to Saint Mungo’s, I’m right behind you.”
Ginny nodded, forcing herself upright and called out, “Saint Mungo’s,” when the green flames erupted.
Molly found her daughter on the other side, being helped to her feet by a pair of witches. She came behind her and wrapped an arm around her waist, moving as quickly as Ginny could to the desk. “She needs a Healer. It’s an emergency!”
Within a few seconds, a tall man came up behind them, conjuring a stretcher for Ginny. Her face had gone ash white and her legs were shaking, trying to support her weight. Molly held her hand tightly as they brought her into a room on the first floor. She sent a silent prayer for her daughter and grandson’s safety through this ordeal.
Ginny had curled into a fetal position, her shaking hand grasping Molly’s tightly. Her other arm was wrapped protectively over her growing child. Her whole body was shaking and a fine sweat had broken out across her face.
The second the elderly female Healer asked the problem, Molly felt the words flying out of her mouth. “She’s feeling sharp pains like a knife in her lower abdomen. She’s 24 weeks along.”
“Ginevra, I need you to lie back so I can examine you,” Healer Dawson ordered, her hands guiding the trembling girl back. Ginny let out a shriek as she extended her legs.
Tears were streaming from Molly’s eyes, watching the woman wave her wand over her daughter, muttering incantations Molly’s mind couldn’t process. Her sister had lost a baby after having the same sharp pains her youngest was experiencing. She knew Ginny wouldn’t survive a miscarriage or a stillbirth. She rubbed her thumb soothingly over the girl’s pale cheek, kissing her forehead every few seconds.
Ginny had gone silent, tears frozen on the apple of her cheeks. Her watery brown eyes were watching the old Healer like a hawk. The pain that had been so evident on her face was gone.
The Healer rushed from her side, muttering, and poked her head out the door calling for assistance. Another witch entered, carrying a tray full of potions.
“What’s wrong?” Ginny asked, her voice weak and shaking. “Is my baby okay?”
“Shhh… take this potion,” the woman ordered, moving into Molly’s way, lifting Ginny’s head and tipping in the phial of purple liquid.
“Wha- is…it?” she tried asking, her voice growing weak and her eyes falling closed. She was asleep before they could answer.
“Dreamless Sleep,” the youngest, blonde nursemaid answered, turning to look at Molly. “She’ll be okay. The baby’s under a lot of stress right now, but Healer Dawson put him under a Soothing Spell for now. We’re going to keep her on nourishing potions and something to give her an appetite. She’s starving the baby and herself.”
Molly nodded her head and wiped the tears off her cheeks. “James… will he be okay?”
“Hopefully the potions will help, but there’s really no telling at this point. He’s weak and hungry,” Healer Dawson explained, letting her hand fall on Molly’s shoulder. “Has she had any kind of treatment for her anorexia?”
“Sh-she’s not anorexic. She just lost her husband a few months ago and she doesn’t know how to cope. I’m usually over there, making her eat something everyday,” she whispered, lowering her head in shame. She should have known the extent of her daughter’s lack of eating was worse than she thought. Ginny, usually able to bounce back from anything, had grown weary in the past months. Her will for life had disappeared along with her husband. It hadn’t helped when hours after he was gone, a Ministry official barged into her hospital room asking her questions about their relationship. Did she think he had been cheating? Had they had any problems? Did he ever mention other women?
Even though Ginny had put on a brave face by then, Molly knew with every question, deep wounds were being slashed into her daughter’s heart. She remembered yelling at the heartless man to get out of Ginny’s room before he was finished questioning her. When he didn’t back down, she bodily removed him, waving her wand to lock the door with an Imperturbable Charm. No one was going to hurt her baby again.
The two Healers left the room, leaving Molly alone with her baby and grandson. She brushed through her daughter’s fine hair and kissed her forehead before taking a seat in the chair beside her bed. She held her hand tightly, muttering another prayer.
Hermione stepped out of the green flames in the cottage, dusting off her lavender robes and running a hand through her hair. The house was quiet and she guessed Ginny was taking a nap. She walked out of the parlor and checked the family room. The couch was empty. She took the stairs, her hand lazily running up the banister.
The door at the end of the hall was closed and Hermione smiled to herself. She was glad Ginny was finally getting some sleep. She pushed open the door to her left, marveling at the brightly decorated nursery. The walls were painted soft green, an oak colored cot was set in the corner with a bright mobile with stuffed broomsticks, Snitches, Bludgers, and Quaffles hung above the bed. The sheets on the bed were blue and covered in the same Quidditch accessories.
Hermione remembered when the four of them got together shortly after Ginny found out she was pregnant. The mother-to-be had point blank refused to decorate anything in pink. She knew James would be a boy and even if he wasn’t, she didn’t want her girl to have the kind of room she had as a child. The bright pinks and purples clashed with her tomboy personality. So, the four of them spent every afternoon for a week painting, giggling, decorating and just enjoying life. They had been so happy and carefree; there was nothing to worry about any longer. Their group was still intact after everything that had happened. They could now get on with their lives and start the next chapter.
She ducked out of the nursery, closing the door behind her then knocked on Harry and Ginny’s door. When there was no answer, she tried again and then opened the door, thinking Ginny was sleeping heavily.
The bed was made, no traces of the redhead. She sighed and knew the last place she would be would be outside in her flowerbed, pruning her beautiful, thriving flowers. She took the stairs down two at a time, feeling like the kid she used to be before Hogwarts. She swung around the end of the banister, redirecting her steps and returned to the front of the house and out the front door.
Hermione took a deep breath of the sweet fragrances of various flowers, then set off around the house to Ginny’s alcove with the bench.
Her heart stopped when her sister-in-law was nowhere in sight. “Ginny?” She felt her panic rising when she picked up the crumpled quilt Mrs Weasley had made from off the ground.
She quickly turned on her heel, stopping dead in her tracks when she spotted the discarded baskets of food. Her heart was pounding rapidly. Not Ginny, too! She couldn’t live with herself if her sister-in-law was gone as well. She ran around the house, yelling Ginny’s name, searching room by room. Tears were flowing down her cheeks when she returned to the Floo and threw in the powder.
She ran through the Ministry for Magic, slamming her hand against the button to the lifts. It couldn’t have come quickly enough. She wrung her hands nervously around the quilt she hadn’t put down, not attempting to stop the river of tears. Once the lift doors opened on Ron’s floor, she darted out, running to his office. She threw the door open without knocking, interrupting a meeting with the department head and one of the English National Quidditch team’s Chasers.
“She’s gone,” she gasped, grabbing at the stitch in her side.
“What? What do you mean she’s gone?” he asked, beginning to panic. He stood up from behind his desk and moved over to her.
“I-I went to her house and she’s not there! The quilt was lying beside her bench. I think someone took her!” She wrapped her arms around her husband, burying her head in his neck. “I can’t lose her, too!”
“Gentlemen, I’m sorry. I need to go,” he announced. When they nodded, he turned and left the room with Hermione at his side. “You sure she didn’t go to the Burrow?”
“I-I didn’t even check. I found the quilt on the ground beside her bench. There were two baskets and a jug of juice lying on the path, I only assumed the worst.” She leaned into his embrace, resting her head against his side. She loved being so close to him. She fit perfectly against his side and since she was nearly a foot shorter, his height made her feel safe and secure.
“Go to the Burrow first, we’ll check with Mum.” He threw the powder into the flames in the lobby of the Ministry for Magic and pushed her in first. “I’m right behind you.”
Hermione stumbled, grabbing for the nearest chair to catch her before she fell. The house was unusually quiet, the smell of baking muffins hung heavily in the air. This was one of her fondest memories of Hogwarts. Mrs Weasley always had freshly baked goodies whenever she came for a visit.
“Mum!” Ron yelled coming behind her. He and Hermione began searching the house, calling both their names. “Mum? Ginny? Damn it!” he cursed, returning to the kitchen and walking purposefully out the door. He returned a moment later. “Damn it.”
“You don’t think…” Hermione couldn’t finish what she began.
“No, no. Definitely not! Don’t even think that!” he snapped, slamming a fist down on the table. He threw a handful of Floo powder into the flames and barked out, “Potter House.”
Hermione followed closely behind him. She wrapped her arms around his middle from behind, trying to provide him with some sort of comfort like he always did for her. She followed him out of the house. When he stopped abruptly, she ran into his back.
“Mum’s baskets. Damn it. We need to get Dad, let him know.”
“M-maybe your mum took Ginny somewhere? We shouldn’t worry your dad until we know for sure. Maybe they’re on their way back from a long walk or something.” Despite her words, she could still feel the panic in her chest. She wanted desperately to believe herself.
“What do we do then? If someone took them-“
“If someone took them, there would have been some destruction. Your mum wouldn’t have set the baskets down; they would have been thrown. There’d be some kind of evidence.” The rational portion of her brain was taking over, canceling out the emotional, irrational conclusions.
Ron sighed heavily, turning from her and running his hands through his hair. “I want to believe what you’re saying, but what if someone does have them? If we don’t look for them now, they’ll be able to get farther away!” He lowered his head in defeat. “I don’t want to lose my kid sister and my mum. I already lost my best friend and a brother.” Unbidden tears filled his eyes and he pushed past her.
She followed him and caught him in the parlor, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Let’s go to the Burrow and wait for your mum to come back. If she’s not back in two hours, by four, we’ll go to your dad.” He nodded and moved closer, allowing her to wrap her arms around him. She rubbed his back, kissing his cheek sweetly.
The flames in the grate erupted green and they both jumped back, startled. Mrs Weasley stepped out, wiping the grime from her robes. “MUM!” Ron shouted, pushing away from Hermione and wrapping his arms around his mother.
“Ronald? What’s wrong?” She pulled away from her youngest son, looking into his eyes.
“Where’s Ginny? Hermione came for lunch and she wasn’t here!”
“She’s okay. I took her to Saint Mungo’s.”
Hermione’s hand flew up to cover her mouth. “Oh God, is James okay? Please, he has to be okay!”
Mrs Weasley just looked at the two sadly, tears filling her reddened eyes. “We hope. He was starving. I hope we caught it in time. They’re going to keep her for a while to get them both healthy again. They want to do a psychological evaluation on her.”
Hermione turned her face into Ron’s shoulder. How could Ginny do this to herself and her baby? “Ginny isn’t nutty!” Ron protested, his arms instinctively snaking around his wife’s waist. Hermione melted into his touch, the weight of the situation weighing heavily on her shoulders. She should have been taking better care of Ginny. She should have been forcing her to eat. How could she not see what was right in front of her? How could she not know how severe it was?
“I know, but she’s not in a right state. She doesn’t want to live.” A sob caught in Mrs Weasley’s throat. “I-I’m just getting her a f-few things f-for her stay.” She quickly left the room and they could hear her footsteps going up the stairs slowly.
“Go help your mum,” Hermione suggested, untangling herself from him. “She needs you. I’m going to Floo to Saint Mungo’s. I’ll meet you there, okay?” When he nodded, she pecked him on the lips and Flooed out of the cottage.