2: Changes in the Wizarding World — October and November 1997
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 Fifteen, The Goblin's Revenge, or Chapter Twenty-two, The Deathly Hallows, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
A/N: This story is told from Molly's Weasley's point of view and parallels Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallowsand the summer after it.
While the weather was still warm and pleasant during the first week of October Molly harvested the last of the summer vegetables from the garden. She sheared the lavender and other flowers and hung them up to dry. It took considerable effort to pick all the apples from the orchard and bring in the full baskets. Then she'd baked many apple pies and preserved jars of sliced apples and apple butter. She also cast Freshness Charms on a whole barrel of apples for enjoying later. It was a busy time for both of them because Arthur was putting in long hours at the Ministry although there were fewer reported cases of Muggles obtaining magical items.
Molly and Corrine resumed their twice a week duelling practice. They alternated between The Burrow and Diggory Downs and walked back and forth as long as the weather was dry. One Monday morning near the middle of October, Molly pointed her wand at the wireless when she and Corrine were taking a break from aiming jinxes. They were both startled to hear an unfamiliar deep voice declaim, 'The Wizard Wireless Network is pleased to be able to introduce PureBonds of Blood, a new exclusive story of one pure-blood witch's effort to find a wizard with a lineage as worthy as hers. Follow Calpernia Selwyn as she begins a journey to find her longed for Pure Bonds of Blood.'
'Where is Nic Meath?' asked Molly.
Almost as though he were answering her question, the deep-voiced announcer said, 'This is Titus Turnpike, chief announcer of the Wizard Wireless Network.'
'I wonder if Kate and Nic are still working at WWN?' mused Corrine as dramatic music played and the new drama began.
Molly flicked her wand and turned the wireless off. 'We really need better programming. There's only one way to find out about Kate and Nic Meath.' She found a scrap of parchment, wrote a note to Kate Wallace, and sent it with Pig. He returned with the note unopened that evening. Now Molly had two more people to be concerned about.
Although both Molly and Arthur usually stayed at home on the weekends because they needed to care for their gravely ill son, Molly became increasingly concerned when there was no word from Tonks. She sent Pig to Tonks' parents asking if she could drop by for a few minutes the following Saturday. Andromeda sent a polite note back saying that she was busy but would be glad to see her. When Molly arrived, she seemed very tense and told her that Ted was on a holiday but should be back by Christmas. When Molly asked about Tonks, she replied that she was doing very well in her second trimester. She also said that she was very excited about becoming a grandmother in the spring. Molly asked whether Tonks' friend Kathleen had arrived yet and was told that she was coming around the first of November. Remus needed to be off the whole month, visiting friends abroad. Molly was still concerned about Tonks but relieved that Andromeda was all right.
Arthur told Molly that he wanted to show her something in his shed after she Apparated back to The Burrow and told him that Tonks and Andromeda were both well. He closed the door and said, 'I do not believe Andromeda's story about her husband going on holiday. I seem to recall that Ted's Muggle-born.'
'I'd forgotten that,' said Molly, concern in her voice. 'I bet he left rather than being forced to register and go before Umbridge's Muggle Registration Committee. Even being married to a Black is no protection.'
Molly got a late start on her Christmas jumpers. It was already nearly her birthday when she sadly decided to make them only for Bill, Charlie, Fred, George, and Ginny. She had Arthur stop off at Ye Little Lamb Shoppe and buy twenty-five balls of cream-coloured yarn. She would vary the decoration on the front.
Molly's forty-ninth birthday was on the last Wednesday of the month. She chose to celebrate with a small family dinner that night. 'It will be fun to cook for more than two,' she said and began to plan food enough for a dozen.
'It's a good thing we like leftovers,' smiled Arthur.
Molly gave him a swat on his arm and said, 'The twins are always happy to have some to take home and Fleur must know by now that Bill needs some meat along with all the vegetables she seems to like.'
A Hogwarts owl arrived the morning of Molly's birthday. She gave him an owl treat and sat down with a second cup of tea to read what Ginny had written.
Dear Mum, Dad, and Ron,
Happy Birthday Mum! I wish I could be there to celebrate your Seven Times Seven Lucky Birthday. I don't even have anything for you because I am not allowed to go into Hogsmeade until I've completed all the detentions I have been assigned. I am so tired of scrubbing bedpans and being used as target practice for jinxes.
I hope that Ron is getting better. We could use his knowledge of chess this year. Do not worry about me. I am not going to do anything to get in even more trouble than I am already in.
Molly put the letter where Arthur would be sure to see it and began cooking a big roast beef with roasted vegetables and some raw ones for Fleur to nibble on before dinner. She tried to remember what Arthur called them to tease her — 'crude eats' — that was it.
Bill and Fleur were the first to arrive and hurried inside from the cold. 'How is Ron?' Bill asked right in front of the fireplace.
'Yes, we 'ave concerns about 'is 'ealth,' said Fleur sweetly.
'About the same,' said Molly. 'He's lost his appetite. All he wants is porridge.'
Molly ran to open the door when she heard Fred shout, 'Happy Birthday Mum!'
'Seven times seven is supposed to be a particularly lucky year,' added George.
'Come in and make yourselves at home,' said Arthur. 'It still is your home, you know.'
However, before anyone could sit down at the kitchen table, there was another knock on the door. Molly looked alarmed and the rest of them put their hands on their wands. 'We are not expecting anyone else,' said Arthur as he went to the kitchen door. 'Who's there?' in a loud voice.
'Open the door and you'll see a surprise for Molly Weasley,' said a woman's voice.
'Identify yourself first!' shouted Bill.
'With Death Eaters roaming the countryside, no one likes surprises!' said the woman's voice in a loud whisper.
'It's me, Charlie!' said a familiar voice and everyone ran to the door. Arthur flung it open and found someone who looked like Charlie and a pleasant-looking woman with brown hair.
'Wait!' yelled Bill. 'How do we know you are not some Polyjuiced person with malicious intention? Where did we go right before the wedding?'
'To sit on the flat rock by the wide place in the stream and talk about the end of life as we knew it,' replied Charlie, as Bill clapped him on the back.
'Happy Birthday! Mum, I've brought Kathleen Pen for you to fatten up before she goes to stay with Tonks.'
Now the Weasleys smiled at Kathleen as Charlie introduced them to her.
'I am zo 'appy zat you weel be with Tonks while 'er 'usband is away,' said Fleur.
'Visiting far-flung friends,' chorused the twins.
'Come, everyone, sit down and we can start eating as soon as I get the food on the table,' said Molly.
After a hearty dinner, but before she cut her Apple Spice cake, Molly opened a new apron from Bill and Fleur, two signed copies of Kathleen's romance novels from Charlie and Kathleen, and an Invisibility Hat from Fred and George. Arthur said that he had something for her that he would give her later. Everyone took turns trying on her new hat and noted that the illusion of having the head of the wearer disappear was very disconcerting.
'It will also protect you from simple jinxes,' explained Fred.
'And we hope to…' George started but stopped when Arthur and Bill shook their heads.
'Now for some of Mum's cake,' said Charlie.
Bill and Fleur left first, followed shortly by Fred and George. Arthur set the dishes to washing. Molly asked Charlie if he was going to be able to spend the night, but he said that he wanted to sleep on the couch at the Lupins'. Kathleen pulled out a small notebook from her robes and wrote, 'Remus must leave in the morning!' and handed it to Molly and Arthur. They nodded and continued to chat about rather mundane topics until both Charlie and Kathleen yawned at the same time. Molly insisted that they go and get some rest.
When they were cuddling before they fell asleep, Arthur gave Molly the present that he had ordered for her. It was a pendant that felt warm when someone who loved her was thinking about her. She put it around her neck and felt the warmth between her breasts under her nightgown. 'Oh, Arthur, this is lovely. I will always know that I am loved.'
'That's the idea, my dear Mollywobbles,' he said as he kissed her passionately.
The next day was Halloween but this year there were few parties and celebrations. The Daily Prophet featured reports of Death Eater attacks on random households. There were also whispered conversations in every workplace about personal attacks on Muggle-borns and witches and wizards married to Muggles. Many reported that friends had their wands snapped. More families went into hiding during the subsequent weeks.
On the first of November, a different Healer came to check on Ron's progress in fighting his severe attack of Spattergroit. Molly assured him that she would repeat the liver and eels' eyes treatment that night when the moon was full. She said that she was concerned that his condition had not improved even thought he had stood naked in a barrel with the specified ingredients for three full moons. She asked if there were any other more effective treatment. After peeking into the room with the pitiable ghoul in Ron's pajamas in his bed, the Healer shook his head and hurriedly left The Burrow.
Bill and Fleur sent their owl inviting Molly and Arthur to come to Shell Cottage for lunch the next Saturday. They Apparated to the top of a cliff by the sea and repeated 'The home of Bill and Fleur Weasley may be found at Shell Cottage, near Tinworth in Cornwall' until the whitewashed cottage appeared. Suddenly, they could see Bill, with his arm around his wife, standing in the doorway.
As they sat in the comfortable living room, Bill motioned to Fleur to serve some wine before he began, 'I have something of the utmost importance to tell you. It must not go beyond this room. Yesterday, a goblin with whom I am on friendly terms told me about an attempt to steal the sword of Gryffindor just last week, on Halloween. While the rest of the students were in the Great Hall at the feast, our Ginny, with Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood, got into Snape's office and smashed open the glass case where he was apparently keeping the sword. Snape caught them as they were trying to smuggle it down the staircase… Couple of days later… he sent it down to London to be kept in Gringotts instead.'
'No!' said Arthur. Molly turned pale and drank a bit of the wine as he asked, 'And what happened to them?'
'Is Ginny all right?' asked Molly in a worried voice as Arthur put his arm around her.
'Yes, all three of them were assigned to help Hagrid gather potion ingredients in the Forbidden Forest at the full moon but escaped from this dangerous detention with nothing more than blisters on Miss Lovegood's bare feet. It turns out that the Longbottom boy is quite proficient at Herbology and knew when they needed to wear dragon-hide gloves.'
'That was lucky,' said Arthur, patting Molly on the shoulder.
'The strange thing is,' Bill said, leaning forward, 'I was told in confidence that the sword that was in the glass case in Snape's office was not actually the sword of Gryffindor. It was a replica that was wizard-made. The original was forged centuries ago by goblins and had certain properties only goblin-made armor possesses.'
Now Molly was tingling. 'Albus left the sword of Gryffindor to Harry but the Minister would not let him have it. He said it had to stay at Hogwarts.'
'I wonder if Albus hid the original before that traitor Snape killed him?' Now Bill stood up and started pacing. 'Is there any way to get word to Harry, Ron and Hermione? This whole business with the fake sword may be important.'
'If I were you, I'd let the average wizard's love of gossip spread the story about the fake sword that was almost stolen,' said Arthur. 'I suspect that the children are resourceful in overhearing conversations. Harry must still have his Invisibility Cloak.'
Fleur served a light lunch and Molly and Arthur returned to The Burrow and took a nap. Molly had a hard time dropping off because she was so worried about Ron and his friends and Ginny and her friends. Even teenagers were in danger with You-Know-Who in power.
A very haughty Hogwarts owl arrived the next day with a letter addressed to Mr and Mrs Arthur Weasley. Molly gave the bird an owl treat while Arthur opened the parchment.
Dear Mr and Mrs Weasley,
It is my unfortunate duty to inform you that your daughter Ginevra has attempted to steal a valuable heirloom belonging to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. While attempting this malicious mischief, she broke in to my office and shattered the case that contained it. Fortunately, the breaking glass triggered an alarm on my person so that I was able to capture her, Mr Neville Longbottom, and Miss Luna Lovegood attempting to escape with the sword of Godric Gryffindor.
It was necessary to punish all three students severely and prohibit them from taking part in any sports or Hogsmeade weekends. It is your duty to punish your daughter for her behavior when she returns home for the Christmas holidays. Her crime has brought further shame to your family.
I hope that your son Ronald will be well enough to resume his studies soon. He can ill afford to miss so much of his education.
Sincerely, Severus Snape, Headmaster Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Charlie had to return to Romania in just a week so Molly spent several afternoons at the Lupin home while he was there. Kathleen and Tonks had been close when they shared a room in Hufflepuff and still had an easy friendship. Andromeda came over one afternoon and knitted a section of a blue baby blanket while they chatted about everything except where Remus and Ted were. Molly could feel the tension but knew it would do no good to mention the danger they both must be in. So many Muggle-borns or wizards who were unacceptable to the current regime were wandering the countryside, sleeping in barns and dependent on the kindness of strangers.
Since Charlie's birthday was only a few weeks away, Molly had an early birthday dinner for him before he left. Bill and Fleur were happy to see Tonks and Kathleen. Fred and George were their usual boisterous selves during dinner. Arthur and his sons went out to his shed while the women cleared the table. All of them were more serious when they came back from seeing how Arthur's new Muggle electronics worked. Molly enjoyed talking about Tonks' pregnancy with the other women but wondered what the men had been investigating. Charlie was given many useful items for his birthday, including one of the Invisibility Hats.
Molly and Corrine continued to practice duelling but were forced inside as the weather turned cold and rainy. They occasionally forgot how much the WWN had changed until Molly would flick her wand at the usually silent wireless. That was how they discovered that there was a new program on after Pure Bonds of Blood. It was called Honor Our Heritage and seemed to be someone reading aloud from Nature's Nobility: A Wizarding Genealogy. Molly poked her wand at the wireless so hard it jumped. "We need some new programs,' she huffed. 'Maybe Fred and George could figure out something interesting.'
A very wet Hogwarts owl banged into the kitchen window the week after Charlie had returned to Romania. Molly put a towel and two owl treats on the kitchen counter where she usually grew seedlings and sat at the table to read.
Dear Mum and Dad,
I am glad to hear that Ron does not have as many pustules as he did at first. I hope that is a sign that he is getting better. If he doesn't come back soon, we will be in the same year and I don't think he'd like that.
I am doing OK. I got a copy of the letter that Headmaster Snape sent you. I have detention almost every night. I am to blame for getting my friends in trouble. The Headmaster has reinstated the Umbridge rule about no more than three people being allowed to converse with one another. I don't have more than two friends that I am close to now but can remember when I had a whole army of friends. Sometimes at night, I feel like I am very close to some of them. Maybe they are sending good thoughts to me.
Tell Fred and George that their owl post got here. I love the two books that Charlie sent from Kathleen Pen. Is she as pretty as the picture on the back of the books? I keep thinking how much fun she and Tonks must be having.
Tell Bill that I will give him his birthday present when I come home for the Christmas holidays. I can hardly wait to see you all.
Arthur was as pleased as she was to hear from Ginny. 'It sounds like she is keeping her spirits up.' Molly nodded but wondered what Ginny was hiding from them.
Late in November, Arthur came home and quietly told Molly that he needed to show her a couple of things in the sitting room. He pulled her away from the kitchen and into the next room. He sat beside her on the sofa and whispered that he had two pieces of bad news. 'Groups of bounty hunters who called themselves Snatchers are roaming the countryside, capturing anyone that might be on the list that were wanted for interrogation, ' said Arthur softly. 'They've caught several sympathizers and a few members of the Order when they spoke You-Know-Who's real name. He made it Taboo and put a Trace on it so Death Eaters or bounty hunters can find anyone who calls him by name.'
Molly grabbed a small piece of parchment and started to make a V. Arthur stopped her and held a finger over his lips.
'What else do you need to tell me? It's not about Ginny, is it?' said Molly in a soft but worried voice.
'Bill came by the Ministry and said that Fleur didn't feel up to coming over for anything to celebrate his birthday so they'd like to postpone any family visits.'
'It will soon be Christmas and Ginny will be home,' said Molly, disappointed that Bill would not be coming for dinner that weekend. 'I'll send his present in with you on his birthday. Maybe you can eat lunch together.'
'I guess I should have said that I had three things that you won't want to hear,' said Arthur softly. 'He says that he and Fleur want to celebrate Christmas all alone. She wants a romantic first Christmas together.'
'I can understand that. Remember when we went all alone to Brighton Beach?'
Arthur smiled. 'I hoped that my romantic Mollywobbles would understand. How could I forget that Christmas all alone with you?' He put his arm around her and snuggled close to her on the couch. Molly felt warmth from the pendant between her breasts and remembered every Christmas they had spent together.