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 Nineteen, The Lion and the Serpent, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
A/N This story is told from Molly's Weasley's point of view and parallels Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and the summer after it.
The morning after Halloween, Molly went to work in earnest. She started the needles knitting Christmas jumpers, scarves, and hats. She usually finished Bill's jumper early because his birthday was in late November and it sometimes took a long time to get parcels to him in Egypt. Now that he was living in London, his could wait while she concentrated on getting Charlie' presents finished and sent off to him in Romania in time for his mid December birthday.
She made a trip to Diagon Alley to get some of the Moonsickles Coffee that both of her older sons liked. She found some long underwear with Heating Charms built in for Charlie, as well, but realized that she did not enjoy shopping as much as she had when she and Corrine used to go into London and make a day of it. She wondered how Corrine was doing now that Ceddie had been gone for five months. As long as she was in Diagon Alley, she walked over to the building where Percy rented a flat but she did not see any sign of him so she Apparated home in a glum mood. She immediately put away her parcels and made a cup of tea but was still not her usual perky self when Arthur arrived home that evening.
'How was your day?' she asked distractedly, not looking up.
Arthur looked at her sitting in front of an empty teacup and put his arms around her. 'I think I'm the one who should be asking about your day. What happened to make my Mollywobbles so upset?'
'I went to Diagon Alley to get something for Bill and Charlie… and went by where Percy lives,' she said in a small voice.
'Oh, Molly, my love. You being cooped up here is not fair. You need to have some human contact besides the members of the Order,' said Arthur, giving her a kiss. He stepped back and put his hand to his forehead. 'I don't know why I haven't thought of it before. I see Amos Diggory at the Ministry nearly every day and I've never thought to ask him if Corrine would like to meet you for a day of shopping in Diagon Alley. She can't be told where we are living, of course, but I am sure she misses seeing you as much as you miss her.'
'I do miss Corrine,' admitted Molly. 'I think of her every time I go to Diagon Alley. We always had so much fun shopping.'
'Then it's settled. I will talk to Amos tomorrow and you and Corinne can arrange to do some Christmas shopping before all the shops get crowded.'
Arthur was as good as his word. He arranged with Amos to have Corrine set a date for her and Molly to spend a day shopping and catching up. Sirius wanted to come along in his Animagus form but could not get permission from Dumbledore.
Molly cheered considerably at the prospect of spending a day with her friend and neighbor. It gave her something to do besides worry about the children, both those still at Hogwarts and her sons already working.
Late in the second week of November a school owl brought a large scroll addressed to 'Mum and Dad' in Ginny's writing. Molly gave the strange owl an owl treat and untied the message. She was puzzled when she unrolled the parchment. It was a series of drawings. The first picture took up nearly the top half. It showed two teams playing Quidditch with stands full of people watching. The team dressed in red had a blonde girl, a girl with brown hair, and another black-haired girl. Two red-haired boys had Beaters' bats. The small, dark-haired boy on a broom way up high had a zigzag scar on his forehead. The angry-looking red-haired boy guarding the rings had tears running down his cheeks as a Quaffle went through one of them. The part of the crowd dressed in red looked sad. A girl with a lion's head hat was cheering.
The other team dressed in green was all boys and some of them were very big. The smallest one had very light blond hair. The green team and the part of the crowd dressed in green had words with musical notes coming from their mouths. The text was small but readable —
'Weasley cannot save a thing. He cannot block a single ring. That's why Slytherins all sing: Weasley is our King. Weasley was born in a bin, He always lets the Quaffle in. Weasley will make sure we win, Weasley is our King. Weasley is our King. Weasley is our King. He always lets the Quaffle in, Weasley is our King.'
Below the big picture, there were five smaller pictures — the first showed the black-haired boy from the red team catching the Snitch while a green-clad blond boy scratched his hand with his long fingernails. A Bludger was about to hit the boy whom Molly was sure must be Harry.
In the next picture Harry was lying on the ground with his broom next to him and the blond boy was screaming, 'fat and ugly' and 'useless loser'. Twin red-haired boys were glowering at him.
The following picture clearly showed a red-haired boy and Harry punching the blond boy in green. Girls dressed in red were holding an identical red-haired boy back while the punching was going on. A witch dressed as a Quidditch referee flew into the picture with her wand at the ready.
The next to last picture was of a tall, stern-faced tartan-clad witch glaring at a short witch dressed in pink. The short witch was shouting at Harry and one of the twins, 'a lifelong ban ought to do the trick… You and Mr Weasley here. And I think, to be safe, this young man's twin ought to be stopped too—'
The final picture showed the three girls on the team crying while standing next to Fred, George, and Ron. They looked very angry. Ginny, Harry and Hermione were standing together looking sad.
Ginny had added 'Hi, Uncle' in tiny writing along the bottom edge below 'THE END'.
Molly sat down abruptly. 'Oh no! Harry and both twins banned from Quidditch for life.' She had never expected that Dolores Umbridge could do such harm.
When Arthur came home, she showed him the drawing. He looked at it very carefully and then said that they needed to show it to Sirius so he would know what had happened to Harry and the twins.
Sirius was furious. 'She can't do that. She's not their Head of House.'
Arthur shook his head and looked grave. 'She's convinced Fudge to issue another Educational Decree. Number Twenty-Five, I think. It says she can do whatever she pleases to whomever she pleases.'
Dinner that night was a silent affair. Arthur tried to talk about how much fun Molly and Corrine would have next week when they went shopping but got very little cooperation. He knew that the very next day, Remus Lupin was coming back from a long trip he'd been on. He hoped that his arrival would cheer up Molly and Sirius.
Remus did cheer Sirius up. He showed the proper outrage at the Quidditch ban and was of the strong opinion that the students needed to learn some defensive spells, to pass their O.W.L.s, if for no other reason. He told Molly about teaching Harry the Patronus Charm when he was only a third year. Molly was still dubious about forming a secret organization but was less worried about them being caught as time went on.
Both Albus Dumbledore and Minerva McGonagall came to an Order meeting a few nights later and stayed for dinner afterward. They assured Molly and Arthur that Dolores Umbridge had overreacted when Harry and George punched Draco Malfoy for saying some very nasty things about their parents. Sirius and Remus bristled at the news that James and Lily had been insulted along with Molly and Arthur.
'She thinks Minister Fudge's Educational Decrees will keep the children from learning but I am sure they will manage very well on their own.' Dumbledore's blue eyes twinkled as he smiled at a private joke. Minerva looked at him sharply, and then shrugged.
Amos and Arthur had arranged for Molly and Corrine to spend the day shopping on the following Wednesday. That morning while Molly was eating breakfast with Arthur, Sirius, and Remus, a school owl arrived with a message for Sirius. He opened it while Molly gave the strange owl some toast.
'It's in Harry's writing,' said Sirius, smiling. 'But it's very short.' He read aloud —
I hope you are all well. We are as well as can be expected and are keeping busy. Our friend has returned and filled the large hole that had been in our hearts. We are looking forward to Christmas.
'Who's been gone and just returned?' asked Remus.
''Hagrid's been on a mission for Dumbledore,' said Arthur, rising to go off to work. 'Get yourself something pretty, my dear. Have a delightful day with Corrine. Perhaps it won't be long until we are back in The Burrow. She understands that it would not be safe for her to know where we are living.'
'If you can call it living,' sighed Sirius. The rest of them smiled a little at his comment. Indeed, Grimmauld Place never warmed up so everyone living or meeting there had to wear long underwear and jumpers under their robes
After she had set the dishes to washing and put tonight's dinner in her time-delayed cauldron, Molly went up and dressed in clothes suitable for shopping. She had known that she had lost some weight but had to do several Shrinking Charms on her skirt and blouse to make them fit. Even her cognac-coloured travelling cloak hung on her loosely.
Sirius and Remus were still sitting at the kitchen table when she came down. 'Remus is getting something useful for Harry from the two of us but would you be so kind as to get something for the rest of the children? I'd like to give Ginny something particularly nice.' Sirius handed her a small bag of gold.
Molly agreed and left to meet Corrine at The Leaky Cauldron at ten. They saw each other immediately when she stepped out of the Floo. They laughed and hugged.
'Oh, Molly! It is so good to see you,' began Corrine. She immediately put her hand over her mouth and inclined her head toward the courtyard. Molly nodded and they went to tap the bricks that would let them into Diagon Alley.
The two old friends decided that the Moonsickles Coffee Corner would be a good place to catch up on what had happened. The coffee shop played rather loud and pervasive music so each booth was quite private.
'I know that I can't ask too many questions, but how are you and Arthur doing?' Corrine and Molly had both ordered tea and a blueberry scone. 'How are the children managing at Hogwarts with that woman in charge?'
'Arthur and I have each other, thank Merlin,' Molly said quietly. 'That woman is making it difficult for anyone to learn much. The twins and Harry have been banned from Quidditch, for life!'
'Oh no! Whatever for?'
'Punching the Malfoy boy, according to someone who was there,' said Molly in a quiet voice. 'He called me some unflattering names and belittled Arthur. But I think it was insulting the memory of Harry's parents that was the final straw.'
Corrine looked shocked. 'I know how I'd feel if someone insulted Ceddie's memory.' Molly reached over the table and took her hand and squeezed it.
'I haven't seen you for so long,' said Molly with a sigh. 'It is so good to see you. Tell me everything you've been doing.'
'I go by The Burrow nearly every week. Whoever is minding it for you while you are gone is doing a good job,' Corrine smiled at Molly. 'It has some very powerful charms on it so I can't get close but it looks like there are small fires in the fireplaces and the garden is tidy. I even saw some of your chickens pecking at grain scattered by the door of the coop.'
Molly's face showed her relief. 'We had to leave before it was apple picking time. I really hope we will be back by Christmas.'
'That would be wonderful. I've missed you. Where shall we go first?' asked Corrine as they finished their tea and scones.
Moll stood up and indicated her smaller clothes before she put her cloak back on. 'I desperately need some smaller underwear and something nice to wear to meet the young woman that Bill is interested in. She's part Veela.'
'Is it the girl from the Tournament?' asked Corrine. 'Ceddie liked her very much but he was so besotted with Cho he didn't ask her out. That seems so long ago.'
'Yes,' answered Molly. 'The very one. I think we are going out to a French restaurant for Bill's birthday. I need something very smart.'
'Gladrags!' they chorused in unison as they set off.
Molly and Corrine were good shoppers. They found many good values on clothes. Molly was particularly pleased with a set of velvet dress robes the same colour as her hair. The robes were rather lower cut than Molly was used to so she decided she needed a new low-cut bra. The foundation specialist at Gladrags was very helpful with undergarments, including a lacy bra and knickers from Paris in the same deep red. Molly felt positively wicked trying them on. She was sure that Arthur would appreciate them.
After they'd finished clothes shopping, they began to look for Christmas presents. Molly chose small items for each of the children from herself and Arthur and something for the Hogwarts students from Sirius. She found a hair clip in the shape of a large black dog for him to give 'his favorite niece'.
They ate lunch at Florean Fortescue's and shopped some more. They topped their day off with a hot fudge sundae in the late afternoon before they parted with promises of 'doing it again'.
Molly returned to Grimmauld Place in a considerably brighter mood than she had been in for weeks. She removed the Shrinking Charm from her parcels and showed her three housemates almost everything she had bought. She did not open the parcels with her underwear or the Christmas presents for any of them.
Molly kept busy supervising the completion of the jumpers and scarves and hats as she remembered how much help Ginny had been before she went to Hogwarts. She listened faithfully to her favorite WWN programs. Days of Destiny had already started reviewing the year by playing important scenes from earlier programs so she did not feel bad about missing everything from the first of August until the first week in November. About the only new information that she learned was that there had been an inadvertent embryo switch so that the two surrogate mothers were each carrying a different set of identical twins than everyone thought.
So many Healers and Healer Trainees on Bedside at St Brigid's were pregnant that the hospital was building a completely new maternity wing and starting an infant and toddler childcare center. In addition, there were more and more children being brought into to the spell damage wards.Healer O'Malley was teaching parents some of the counter curses that they could trust their pre-Hogwarts children with. Parents listening to the program would surely pass along the information to their own children.
Bill invited his mother and father to join him and Fleur at a dinner celebrating his twenty-fifth birthday on Friday, November 29. He made reservations at the most expensive French restaurant in Diagon Alley, Soir Enchante'. Molly and Arthur dressed with great care for the occasion. They were a bit nervous about meeting the young woman their oldest son seemed to be spending so much time with. Arthur told Molly that even if the girl was part Veela, he was sure her beauty would pale in comparison to hers. He liked the new velvet robes with unmentionables to match.
Bill and Fleur were already seated when Molly and Arthur arrived at the very posh establishment. They both stood up and Fleur kissed the air on either side of Molly's face first and then performed the same greeting with Arthur.
'I am enchanted that we finally meet. Your zon has told me so much about you,' Fleur said in a rather breathless voice.
'Shall we have a bottle of champagne to celebrate the occasion?' asked Bill.
Everyone nodded, and the waiter came to take the order. Molly and Arthur were surprised that Bill ordered in French. Maybe they reallyhad been helping each other learn a new language. They agreed with his suggestion that he order for all of them as soon as they saw that the menu was entirely in French.
The dinner was delicious. Fleur did not speak very much. She did say, 'My little sister Gabrielle still has quite a crush on Harry Potter because he saved her life with his friend Ron helping, as well.' She also complimented Molly on choosing robes which enhanced her colouring so well. Molly and Arthur beamed at her.
After dinner, Molly and Arthur Apparated back to Grimmauld Place and went up to bed. 'I think you should match your underwear to your robes more often, Mollywobbles,' said Arthur, waggling his eyebrows.
'I do believe you are on to something there,' said Molly with a come-hither look.