Author: Whatever Makes You Break PM
When Winnie McKinnon's mother, Marlene, was killed during the 1st Wizarding War, the Weasleys took her in as one of their own. Fred and George were her best mates, but one had the potential to be much more. Part I.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance/Humor - George W. & OC - Chapters: 15 - Words: 101,339 - Reviews: 348 - Favs: 294 - Follows: 110 - Updated: 07-10-10 - Published: 10-28-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5474035
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Dark Mark
A friend is someone who knows everything about you,
but loves you anyway.
The humid summer air was nearly suffocating, even at such a late hour. A thunderstorm had dampened the lengthy grass of the Burrow. The trains of two elderly wizards were weighed down by the moist earth. A thick layer of mud had began collect upon the soles of their boots as they approached the unique looking home belonging to Arthur and Molly Weasley. The moon managed to peak through the thickening clouds above for a few stray seconds before dissolving once more. Another storm seemingly threatened the skies again.
Albus Dumbledore took his counterpart, Minerva McGonagall, by the elbow to help the aging witch steady her strides through the virtual quick sand. She sent him a feeble smile of appreciation. Dumbledore was always a gentleman, no matter how grave the circumstance. Minerva held a small snoozing child on her hip, seemingly dead to the world. The little girl's hands were wrapped snugly around the neck of Deputy Headmistress with a tiny black kitten purring quietly in her arms, tear stains were clearly visible through a thick layer of soot coating nearly her entire body. The small gold locket, on a chain too long for her little neck, hung over her dirty jumper. The two wizards stood before the pale wooden front door, neither feeling mentally prepared to deliver the news of another Order member's death. There had been so many untimely deaths, and there were still so many more to come.
"They managed to orphan two children in a matter of weeks, Albus," whispered McGonagall, with the slightest hint of terror in her solemn voice. "First, young Neville Longbottom, and now poor Winifred McKinnon—"
"And I fear more will suffer the same fate before it is all over," sighed Dumbledore.
"They were so young," said McGonagall. "None of them were more than twenty five years old, and their children will—"
"Their children will grow up knowing their parents gave their sanity and their own lives, in hopes that they can live a life free of trepidation and malevolence," said Dumbledore wisely.
McGonagall nodded slowly in reply, tears stinging her radiant green eyes, propping the sleeping girl higher on her hip. Dumbledore offered the tearful woman his handkerchief. She dabbed her eyes several times with her free hand before returning the white cloth to her dear friend. He made certain McGonagall had stifled her silent sobs before knocking on the door before them. He placed a kind hand on her shoulder whilst they waited for an answer. Footsteps grew audibly nearer as Minerva cleared her throat to prime her vocal chords again. Arthur looked through the peephole in the center of the front door before he even considered opening it. Countless locks could be heard disengaging prior to the eventual opening of the ancient door.
"Albus, Minerva, to what do I owe this pleasure and at such a late hour?" asked Arthur, welcoming the two inside and closing the door behind them. He was wearing his pajamas, a nightcap, and clutching an illuminated lantern. "W-Why is Winnie with you?"
It was obvious, judging by his appearance and lethargic body language, that Arthur had just woken from a dead sleep. Heavy bags were visible under his kind eyes, matching that of Dumbledore and McGonagall. None of them had received more than a few hours of sleep a night in what seemed like decades. His face showed great concern.
"Arthur, I fear this visit is far from a pleasant inclination," said Dumbledore softly.
"Please, take a seat," said Arthur, suddenly more alert. Dumbledore and McGonagall each took a seat on a nearby tattered sofa while Arthur sat anxiously in an oversized armchair across from the pair. He lit a fire in the adjacent hearth. "What is this all about?"
"Unfortunately, Arthur—" started Dumbledore.
"Arthur Weasley, what—" hissed a very pregnant Molly Weasley. She stopped dead in her tracks once she realized the reason her husband had gotten out of bed was because of company. Her annoyed expression instantly faded. She clearly felt out of sorts, in her nightgown and slippers, in front of the two visitors. She blushed and smiled sweetly.
"Oh, Arthur dear, why didn't you tell me we had visitors?" asked Mrs. Weasley.
"Sorry, darling," said Arthur.
"Please, join us, Molly," said Dumbledore. "This most certainly concerns you as well."
Molly raised a curious brow before she noticed McGonagall was holding a little girl in her arms. Molly gasped and waddled to take the child from Minerva's possession. She propped the little girl, with such pretty long black hair, up on her hip how McGonagall had previously positioned her. Molly swayed from side to side, brushing the hair from the little girl's ash covered face and humming a quiet tune.
"What's happened?" urged Molly. "Why is Winnie so disheveled? Where is her mother, where is Marlene?"
"Please, Molly," said Dumbledore calmly. "In your condition, I would prefer you sit down and allow me to explain properly."
Molly clutched Winnie closer and eased herself into the other large armchair opposite Dumbledore and McGonagall. Her large stomach looked as if it were about to burst.
"I apologize for waking you both at such a late hour," said Dumbledore.
"Please, Albus," said Molly, ignoring Dumbledore's formalities. "Has Marlene been hurt? Winnie is more than welcome to stay here until she recovers. It would be no trouble. Fred and George are quite fond of her, you know, we all are."
"We know," said Dumbledore. He could hear Minerva's breath become caught up in throat. He sent her a formidable look, silently requesting her to control herself. She lowered her gaze to her laced fingers in her lap. Dumbledore returned his gaze to the Weasleys. "I am afraid Marlene's fate is much more grave."
"Then you mean, you mean she's—" said Arthur.
"I am afraid so," sighed Dumbledore. "She has been killed along with the remaining members of her family. They were together in Little Langley when they were attacked."
Molly gasped for breath, clutching her chest in shock. Tears began to fall down her plump cheeks. Arthur sloppily rubbed his mouth, processing the loss of their dear friend. They had known so many whose lives were lost already. Gideon and Fabian Prewett, Molly's brothers, had just been taken from them two months prior at the hands of Antonin Dolohov. They were still mourning their deaths, and now several more were added to the deadly equation.
"Not Marlene," sobbed Molly. "She was only twenty three, still a child herself..."
"And you said her parents, Eleanor and Rudolf, as well?" asked Arthur, breathing heavily.
"Yes," said Dumbledore. "Her sister, Abigail, and her husband were also taken."
"Abby was pregnant with their first child," cried Molly. "We were both due next month."
"It is an utter tragedy," sighed Dumbledore, lowering his eyes in sorrow. "The assassins have yet to be identified, though rumors have already began to spread of sightings of a suspicious tall dark haired man with a tall hat followed by a shorter man with wild grey hair and a pencil thin physique in the area."
"Karkaroff and Travers," said Arthur.
"Yes, it would seem so," said Dumbledore.
"I guess they couldn't just couldn't let Winnie grow up without her father," said Arthur, his face reddening with rage. "They had to take her mother away from her, as well."
"She never even had the chance to meet her dad," Molly cried, looking down at the sleeping girl. "What those monsters did to Benjy was so gruesome I cannot even bare to think of it."
"Yes, the loss of Benjy Fenwick was devastating," said Albus, nodding slowly in agreement.
"How did Winnie manage to come out of all this alive, Albus?" asked Arthur abruptly.
"That is still somewhat of a mystery," said Dumbledore. "She was discovered shaken, but unharmed, in the rubble of the home. We believe Marlene hid her somewhere where the assassins could not find her. I am not keen on pressing young Winifred for details of her survival until she is ready to do so."
"She hasn't said much of anything," McGonagall added, obviously barely holding herself together. "She's just been calling for her mother and pointing at the sky. She was alone in the debris of the house, with that little black kitten, for nearly an hour before she was discovered. She was just shaking Marlene, trying desperately to wake her. The Dark Mark was overhead. That's what she was pointing at."
"You mean she was alone with the bodies for over an hour?" Arthur choked.
Molly's breath became caught in her throat as she then noticed a large stain on the front of Winnie's grey jumper. It was blood and not her own. She placed an adoring kiss atop the little girl's head, rocking her back and forth. Molly couldn't imagine what Winnie must have seen just hours earlier.
"Yes," said Dumbledore despondently.
"Those sick, sick b—"
"Well, what is to happen to poor Winnie?" interrupted Molly, blubbering like mad. "She's only three years old."
"That is why we are here," said Dumbledore. "We were hoping that the two of you would be so kind to look after young Winifred for a couple days until Minerva and I get her affairs in order. Then, unfortunately, with no remaining relatives, we have no choice but to send Miss McKinnon to St. Mary's orphanage until her eleventh birthday—"
"You will do no such thing," said Molly, stifling her cries in an instant. "This beautiful child will not spend her childhood in some asylum—"
"Molly, St. Mary's is a highly reputed orphanage, hardly an asylum," said Dumbledore. "I have the utmost faith in their abilities to properly care for Miss McKinnon—"
"Care and love are two very different things, Albus," said Molly. "I cannot bear the thought of Winnie growing up without a loving family."
"Unfortunately, we has no other options—" said Dumbledore.
"Oh, yes you do," snapped Molly. "She'll stay with us."
"Of course she will," said Arthur swiftly, nodding in agreement.
"Molly, Arthur you are most gracious," said Dumbledore. "But I fear you have quite a large family already. Such a burden—"
"She would most definitely not be a burden," interjected Molly. "Winnie is a wonderful girl, much like her mother. Arthur and I will be her guardians, end of discussion."
"If you insist, Molly," smiled Dumbledore. "I must admit, in all my years, I have never known such benevolence. The two of you are absolutely extraordinary. I am certain Marlene would appreciate such selflessness."
"We would do anything for Marlene...and Benjy for that matter," said Arthur honestly.
Dumbledore nodded kindly at the couple. He peered over at Minerva who had tears in her eyes again. He smiled sadly at his friend before he stood up. He offered his hand for her to accept and stand beside him. Arthur and Molly followed suit, Molly with much more difficulty than her husband.
"We will send her things in the morning...well, anything that can be salvaged," said Dumbledore. "The McKinnon inheritance is now in Winifred's name. You will not be forced to suffer any financial responsibility, for Marlene's family was quite well off as you know."
"Her assets are no matter," said Molly. "We can manage another little one with or without her additional funds."
"I am sure you could," smiled Dumbledore, placing a hand on Minerva's shoulder. "Again, may I speak on behalf of Marlene in saying 'Thank you for your kindness.'"
"Nonsense," said Molly. "We deserve no recognition. I wouldn't be able to live with myself if little Winnie was shipped off to one of those dreadful orphanages. That is no place for a child to grow up."
"Even so, thank you," smiled Dumbledore. "We must be on our way, however. It'll be morning in a few hours, and we have several other matters to attend to before daybreak. We will be in touch."
"Yes, of course," said Arthur. "Goodnight."
"Goodnight," said the teaching duo in unison.
Dumbledore and McGonagall strolled out into the darkness once again. A steady drizzle fell upon them as they walked to the edge of the Burrow before apparating. Dumbledore held McGonagall's arm like before. He remained silent, content with the outcome of their meeting.
"You are shrewd, Albus," said McGonagall.
"How so, my dear Minerva?" asked Dumbledore, looking straight ahead.
"You knew all along that Arthur and Molly would take her in," deducted McGonagall.
"I haven't the slightest idea what you're talking about," smirked Dumbledore.
McGonagall examined her old friend's expression allowed a faint smile to grace his lips. She kept quiet, gripping his hand warmly in hers.
Molly carried the little girl in her arms and drew her a bath, refusing to let her sleep in an outfit covered in her mother's blood. Arthur sat on the floor of the lavatory, his back against the wall, holding Winnie's small black kitten in his hands. He looked down at the tiny animal with a blank expression, brushing the soot off its fur. He slid the soot off the heart shaped tag dangling off the collar and read the kitten's name, "May." It was the birth month of Winnie and both of her parents: Marlene McKinnon and Benjy Fenwick. Molly ran her hand through the water to check the temperature.
Winnie didn't wake from her emotional exhaustion induced slumber until Molly pulled her jumper over her head. Her vision was blurry from the mixture of ash and tears that coated her eyelids. She was not startled by her new surroundings, she did not cry; in fact, she did not react at all. Molly placed her in the bathtub and began attempting to scrub the dried blood and soot from her skin. Winnie sat in the warm water, staring straight ahead with no expression on her face.
"Winnie dear, you are going to be staying here, with us, from now on," said Molly in the kindest voice she could muster. "Alright?"
The little girl nodded her head forward once without so much as blinking. Molly looked at Arthur with a solemn expression, pleading for him to say something.
"Sweetheart, could we get you anything?" asked Arthur.
"Mummy," said Winnie without a moment's hesitation.
"Oh—" choked Arthur awkwardly, peering at Molly for help.
"Dear, your mum—" started Molly. "You see, sometimes daddies and mum—"
"She's dead?" said Winnie in a tone that was seeking reassurance that the fact was true more than it was asking a question. She understood the concept of death. Her mother had taught it to her young. How could she not when Winnie's own father had been killed before she was born?
"Yes, dear, she is," said Molly. "We are so terribly sorry."
Winnie merely nodded again, expressionless. She stared straight forward again without another word spoken. The three of them remained silent for the remainder of Winnie's bath. Once she was completely clean, Molly covered her in a large cotton towel and lifted her from the tub. Molly rubbed the cloth over her skin to dry her off.
"I'll go and nick some of the kids' pajamas," said Arthur quickly, getting to his feet and setting May gently on the closed toilet seat, where she curled up in a ball.
"Fred and George," said Winnie, unable to formulate another thought.
"They're in bed," said Molly, pushing a long strand of Winnie's long dark hair from her face. "You can sleep with them tonight, if you like."
Winnie repeated her blank nod, translating her approval of Molly's suggestion. Arthur returned with an oversized t-shirt that would act as a decent nightgown and a pair of what must have been the twins'. Arthur handed Winnie her pet kitten before Molly carried her quietly into the twins' bedroom. They had fallen asleep in a most awkward position on one bed, a pile of figurines between them upon the sheets. Arthur collected the toys and placed them in their trunk then covered them up with a blanket. Molly walked to lay Winnie in their currently unused bed, but she shook her head violently.
She climbed down from Molly's arms and crawled in between Fred and George. Arthur shrugged and covered her with the same blanket. She immediately closed her eyes, clutching May against her chest. The couple tiptoed towards the door, suddenly hearing the faint sound of sobbing from the little girl. Molly had taken a step forward to console her before she saw a gangly arm extend over Winnie, hugging her close. A few seconds later, the crying ceased and slumber ensued. That would be the last time a tear would fall from Winifred Rose McKinnon's eyes for nearly seventeen years.
"Bloody hell," I groaned, feeling the sharp pain of the pin jabbing my skin. I tried to make a run for it, project myself off the slightly elevated platform and take off for the door. However, Molly saw my eyes dart towards the exit and decided it was wise to grasp my arms to hold me in place. She jerked me back in a sudden erect position, causing Madam Malkin to poke my waist with another needle.
"Well, if you would just stand still then you wouldn't keep getting stuck," said Molly, sending an apologetic smile to the frustrated seamstress, "and watch your mouth." She felt it necessary to toss in the mild scolding for my inability to speak politely in public, or in private.
"You know I won't wear skirts, so I don't understand why you're insisting I get fitted for one," I objected.
"Because you cannot go on wearing trousers forever," said Molly.
Molly was quite sick of my persistence to avoid skirts, and any real feminine attire for that matter. I didn't see the point in wearing such an inconvenient object when pants were so much easier to move about in. I hadn't worn anything but trousers since I was five, and I didn't intend on changing anytime soon.
"Just give it a rest, Mum," said Fred, striding out of one of the dressing room in a pair of new pants. "It's pointless to try and dress her up like a lady."
"Yeah," George agreed, mimicking his twin's motions from the neighboring dressing room. "It's like putting lingerie on a chimp."
The twins shared matching lighthearted grins as they both flashed me empathetic winks. I rolled my eyes and crossed my arms over my chest, fighting a smile. I couldn't help but laugh at them, even when they were making fun of me, they were just so bleeding hilarious. Madam Malkin's assistants scurried over to Fred and George to make sure their new pants fit them properly.
"George—" started Molly.
"Now, George," Fred mocked Molly, wagging his finger at his brother. "If you can't say anything nice, say it about Winnie."
"You should have thrown them away and kept the stork," I sighed, turning to Molly who was still trying to process Fred and George's insults. I could hear Ginny snickering from across the room as she placed her new robes on the counter. Molly was less than amused, however.
"I've had about enough of you three," said Molly, still holding me tight but staring daggers at the twins. "I gave you free range to go to Gambol and Japes, and you re-pay me by misbehaving."
"Why is she always surprised?" asked Fred, nudging George and receiving a pair of shrugs from the both of us.
"Oh, I wish you three would just grow up already," said Molly fiercely. The three of us shared comical expressions causing Molly to her an exasperated sigh.
I was so envious when Fred and George were allowed to change back into their normal clothes that I could barely see straight. All I wanted to do was put my jeans back on and head back to the Leaky Cauldron. When I felt Molly trying to fix my hair, I had had enough. I tried to pull my head from her fingers with no avail.
"Molls, just let me alone," I pleaded, wincing as she combed her fingers through my waist length black locks. I always wore my hair in long pigtails that hung lazily before my shoulders. Molly hated it. She adjusted my necklace, pulling the latch behind my neck. She felt the constant need to fidget with my appearance.
"Winnie dear, you would be so pretty if you would just let your hair out of those ties," she sighed, licking her thumb and thoroughly wiping a smudge off my cheek, "and looked in a mirror once in awhile."
I winced, scrunching up my nose, as she continued to rub my face clean with her own saliva. Molly was right. I didn't care much about my appearance. I had thick wavy black hair that hung to my waist. In certain lights, my dark locks seemed to gleam a bit of blue. I was petite but just the slightest bit curvy, like my Mum was, no more than an inch or so over five feet. Personally, my eyes were my only prideful physical feature. I had gotten my eyes from my Father. Well, Molls and Arthur had told me that. My eyes, like my Father's, weren't just a regular blue. They were dark in comparison to most. They could be considered navy, even. A few flecks of silver illuminated my unique irises.
I never wore make-up, nor did I even own any. I usually wore a pair of tattered jeans and an oversized hooded sweatshirt that belonged to Fred or George, and it was highly unlikely to see me in anything but my favorite pair of worn grey chucks. I hadn't really had any true suitors over the years. I was romantically overlooked by the male population at Hogwarts mostly because of my Tom-boy tendencies. I was about as close to being one of the boys as a girl could get, and apparently, being one of the boys isn't very attractive to the opposite sex.
"Alright, you're finished," said Madam Malkin, climbing up from her knees. I didn't give Molly a chance to insist upon me being fitted for another skirt for the school year, so I darted into the adjacent dressing room and slid my jeans and George's grey sweatshirt back on. I handed the now wrinkled skirt to Madam Malkin, who rolled her eyes and tapped her wand carelessly to the cloth. The needles instantly disappeared, hemming the skirt to fit my measurements perfectly. Molly took the pile of clothes the lot of us had tried on, along with my Galleons, to buy my things and then the others'.
Fred and George reappeared behind me, flashing their trademark lopsided grins. I crossed my arms over my chest and popped out my hip, Fred rested his elbow on my shoulder and stared on at Molly. She looked rather perturbed, her hair a little out of sorts. We had caused her to get a bit more riled up than usual, but only a bit.
"You know, we really should grow up," said George sarcastically.
"Yeah, and Percy should get a sense of humor," I smirked.
"But we all know that's not going to happen," Fred laughed.
A/N: Okay, I hope Winnie is going to come off less Mary-Sueish now. The first chapter isn't too dramatically different than the first chapter from the other fic, but I like it a bit better. I hope you do, too. If she starts turning into a Sue then I want you lot to tell me!
PS: I just want to thank you lot for being so amazing. I couldn't ask for better readers/reviewers. You inspire me to keep writing. With so much craziness going on in my life with work, school, friends, and trying to find a new apartment...I like writing these fics to sort of take a break from all the outside stresses && you all really are a part of that! Thank you so very much. I hope you keep reading on. I'm extremely excited about this fic. I love these three characters, and I can't wait to tell their story. Get ready...because here we go...
Coming Soon: The trio reunite with Harry at the inn, return to Hogwarts, and Dementors...