Ree's AN: This lovely thing was e-mailed to me and made me smile for quite awhile. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
The Identity of the Mystery Knitter
Another Snowball Tale
Yen's AN: This story takes place a month before A Tradition Worth Keeping and will make a lot more sense if you've read that and every story in the Snowball series.
- Story Start -
Somewhere beyond the misty gate…
"Molly, are you making another quilt?"
Molly lifted her wand and the needle flashing in and out of the half-finished quilt paused. She looked up and smiled at Arthur who was standing in the doorway of their living room.
"Yes, this is for Harry and Severus' bedroom."
Looking down again, she flicked her wand at the needle, watching carefully as it resumed attaching a small square of red cloth.
Arthur came over and sat next to her on the sofa, watching the row of tiny, even stitches, courtesy of Molly's skill. The silence between them was one that was comfortable and familiar after a long lifetime of living and loving together, at first on earth and now here.
"I know we've missed them," Arthur said after a while, "but I'm very glad they've had a good long life together."
Molly nodded her agreement. Many souls allowed their years on earth to fade away in the tranquility of the afterlife, but she and Arthur had promised themselves and each other that they wouldn't be one of those. Their lives had been too rich and full of love and experiences to forget. They also wanted to be able to recognize and welcome every member of their large and extended family when he or she arrived here.
Arthur fingered the thick material lying on his wife's lap, a small frown pulling his eyebrows together as he rubbed a thumb over a bright orange triangle.
"I thought you would only use the four Hogwarts colours for them?"
Molly gave a sniff, but didn't look up.
"Oh no, Arthur! Do you still remember how dull and dreary Snowball looked? All those black and gray doilies and knitted rugs, despite the many colourful items I had made-"
Breaking off, she exhaled and shook her head. When Arthur didn't say anything, she waved her wand at the needle to pause it again before looking at him with narrowed eyes.
"There's something they're not telling me. I remember asking them where they had gotten those drab things each time we visited, but either Harry or Severus would quickly change the subject."
"Well, perhaps they bought them?" Arthur suggested in a practical tone. "From someone who needed the money?"
Molly's frown disappeared at once.
"They do look well made," Arthur continued and then he smiled, blue eyes twinkling. "Almost as good as yours, Molly dear."
Trying hard not to preen - and knowing she still was - Molly gave a reluctant chuckle and reached up to press a kiss to his cheek. "Bless you, dear. They are probably of good quality since Severus wouldn't accept any less, but… those colours!"
Still smiling, Molly shook her head again and flicked her wand at the needle.
"In any case," she continued, "they'll be here next month and I intend to make sure their new house is bright and cheery, the way it should be, the way Snowball should have been. The living room curtains are ready and this quilt should be finished by next week."
With more than a century and a half of married wisdom under his belt, Arthur looked around their colourful and cosy living room, full of Molly's knitted and crocheted items. He smiled at her and wisely kept silent.
- o -
Three months later…
On the morning of Boxing Day, Molly made her way to the Popes' house with a tin of gingersnaps and two colourful scarves neatly folded in a gift bag.
In addition to her usual gifts of Christmas sweaters, she had also knitted matching scarves and gift wrapped each set as early back as July. At that time, neither she nor Arthur had known about Harry and Severus' impending arrival in October. It wasn't until they were arranging the mound of presents under the tree on Christmas Eve that Molly remembered she needed two more sweaters. She had rushed to get them ready on time, but the scarves were forgotten.
When the gifts were exchanged and unwrapped the next morning, Molly was embarrassed to discover her oversight. Both Harry and Severus assured her that the sweaters were more than enough, but she was still determined to make it up to them.
Harry opened the front door at her knock, looking surprised to see her standing there. He greeted her, glanced over his shoulder and then invited her in for a cup of tea.
"Good morning, Harry. A cup of tea sounds lovely," Molly told him and stepped inside. "Here are the scarves I owe you and Severus, and some gingersnaps."
Harry's smile widened as he accepted the gifts.
"You really didn't have to, Molly, but thank you. Dobby thinks your biscuits are the best he's ever tasted. Please come in and make yourself at home, I'll get Dobby to bring tea while I go look for Severus."
Molly waved him off and went to the living room. The first thing that caught her eye was the small Christmas tree in the corner, decorated with twinkling lights and what looked like small white balls and silver crescent moons. Upon closer inspection, she realized they were snowballs and… blades? Scythes?
How odd, she thought to herself as she poked at a tiny twin bladed affair. She had never before seen such macabre decorations in her life and having brought up Fred and George,thatwas saying something.
The second thing she noticed were the new black and gray doilies decorating the backs of the two handsome armchairs set in front of the fireplace. She pressed her lips together in annoyance. It looked like that individual who had stamped their signature on Snowball had passed on as well. He or she was here in the afterlife and still persisting in the tradition of giving - she didn't think they needed the money now – the same knitted things in those dull colours!
Pressing her lips together, Molly bent her head to examine one of the doilies more closely. She had to concede that the workmanship was first rate, but still...!
"Mrs. Weasley! Dobby wishes Mrs. Weasley a Merry Christmas and thanks you most kindly for his beautiful sweater! And biscuits!"
Molly turned around and beamed at Dobby who was putting a tray on the coffee table.
"Merry Christmas, Dobby," she replied, "and you're most welcome!"
She was pleased to see the little elf wearing his brand new sweater in bright blue wool with a red 'D' in front. He bowed to her and as he left, she saw his socks were the usual mismatched pair, one blue and red striped, and the other black and gray striped.
That last one made her blink.
Dobby loved wearing the brightest colours he could find, a love he shared with Albus. This must mean that that particular sock had to have come from…
Molly nodded to herself, determined to find out the identity of this mystery knitter once and for all. She wasn't going to allow Harry or Severus to change the subject this time, but first, there was something she wanted to check.
Going to the doorway of the living room, she looked around. Severus and Harry hadn't appeared yet so perhaps she could take a quick peek in their bedroom just to make sure the quilt she had made was still there?
She was upstairs before she could talk herself out of it and pushing open the master bedroom door which was slightly ajar. Then she took a few steps inside and stared down at the brand new wool blanket spread over the large bed. She had to admit that the small white and gray squares were of uniform size andthe scalloped border in dark gray wool was very nicely done, but – but where was the patchwork quilt she had so painstakingly sewn for them?
Making a quilt was no easy task despite the use of magic. Each and every scrap of cloth had to be matched and measured for colour, size and balance before being put together, one at a time. Then the backing cloth – a soft velvet - had to be attached and a border sewn all around the blanket.
Molly bit her lip, hurt and indignation - two emotions she hadn't felt ever since arriving here - welling up inside her as she recalled the many hours she had spent on that quilt, making sure it was perfect, making sure the stitches were neat and tidy. She wasn't sure how long she stood there fighting back tears, but a light cough brought her out of her reverie.
Harry. She would know the sound of his cough anywhere.
Sniffing, she dashed a hand across her eyes and remembered that she was only supposed to take a quick peek in their bedroom. Now, Harry and likely Severus as well had caught her inspecting their blanket, of all things!
Molly could feel her cheeks burning, but there was no help for it. She took a deep breath before turning around.
Harry stood just inside the room and as she had suspected, he wasn't alone. Severus stood beside him, both their expressions more resigned than annoyed. Behind them was a tall hooded figure with a long handled scythe and Hedwig sitting on one of his shoulders, her snowy feathers making a sharp contrast with the black and gray striped scarf around her neck.
Molly blinked in astonishment at the unexpected visitor, momentarily forgetting to apologise. For a moment, she had the crazy thought that Death was here to take either Harry or Severus away and then common sense prevailed and she remembered he had taken them... and brought them here.
"You! Why are you here?" she asked, feeling a bit like that girl Alice in the story Hermione had often read to Rose and Hugo when they were little, the one who fell down a rabbit hole.
"By the kind invitation of Severus and Harry Pope," Death replied, gesturing to the two wizards in front of him. His skeletal hand went on to stroke Hedwig's feathers and received an affectionate nip in reply, the soft click of beak against bone loud in the resultant silence.
Something... perhaps it was Death's black robes. Perhaps it was the way Harry and Severus were looking at her as if waiting for the shoe to fall. Perhaps it was just intuition at work, but Molly suddenly realised she had discovered the identity of the mystery knitter.
"It was you," she said faintly. "All those knitted items in Snowball, the doilies, rugs, covers... they were all from you!"
When the silent nod as well as Harry and Severus' guilty expressions confirmed her guess, Molly took a step back and found herself sitting on the neatly made bed. She looked at Death and then at Severus and finally at Harry, the boy she had always considered as one of her own.
"Why didn't you tell me? I tried to ask..."
Harry came forward and knelt next to her, reaching for one of her hands.
"I know you did, but we didn't know how to tell you," he confessed. He glanced up at Severus who came to stand next to him and then looked back at Molly, his expression earnest. "At first, we didn't want to tell anyone. This was our secret, a tradition we started with Death. Then he started reciprocating in kind and we got used to the colours he used."
Molly blinked at that. She looked up at Death who took a sudden half step back that had Hedwig spreading her wings to keep her balance.
"So you've been meeting him each year?"
"Every Christmas morning since the bargain was made," Death answered.
"He's our friend," Harry added and squeezed Molly's hand. "I'm sorry. We didn't intend for you to find out like this."
When a warm hand rested on his shoulder, he looked up at Severus.
"No, we didn't," Severus agreed. "Please accept our apologies."
Molly sniffed and dabbed at one eye before forcing a smile. "I should be the one apologising for going inside your bedroom. I… I hope you didn't throw away any of my knitting?"
Both wizards looked shocked at that.
"No! Of course we didn't!" Harry said indignantly.
"Every item you gave us was placed in a cedar chest with a strong preserving charm on it. It's gone to Violet and her family now," Severus explained.
"With a note from us 'To be used with love'," Harry added.
Molly gulped, sniffed and took another deep breath. It helped a bit to know her presents were being used and appreciated. When the awkward silence persisted, she sniffed again and stood up.
"Well," she said as cheerfully as she could. "I might as well take back that patchwork quilt if you're not going to use it?"
Severus gave Harry a hand up before going to the cupboard and opening it. He took down the colourful quilt from the top shelf, ignoring how Death took another half step back as if the colours were too much for him, and put the blanket carefully into a conjured bag. Then he handed it to Molly.
"Thank you, Molly. We do appreciate all the work that you and Arthur put into this house."
"More than we can say," Harry said and hugged her tightly.
Molly returned the hug and over Harry's shoulder, saw Death turning to follow Severus back downstairs. She couldn't help wondering who to give the quilt to now… that and all the things she had knitted for them for the past few months.
She knew that none of them would find a home here.
- o -
When Molly returned home, she found Arthur having a cup of tea in the kitchen.
"Back so soon, love? What's that you've got there?"
Molly sat down and heaved a sigh, the very sound of it making Arthur reach for the teapot to pour her a cup.
"Oh, Arthur…!" she burst out and the whole sorry tale soon followed.
"So they've been meeting Death every Christmas? For so many years?"
Molly nodded and poured her second cup of tea. She felt a bit calmer now, thanks to the hot beverage and Arthur's calm acceptance.
"I suppose I shouldn't have been so surprised to see him there," she admitted. "If anyone can make a friend out of Death, it would be Harry, and if anyone could tolerate that boy's ideas, it would be Severus."
She looked down at the bag in her hand and sighed. "It's just that I don't know what to do with all the things I've made."
When Arthur didn't say anything, she looked up to find him smiling tenderly at her.
"I have some good news for you," he said.
Molly nodded even though she didn't think that whatever he had to say would cheer her up. She forced a smile on her face.
"Well, what is it?" she asked.
Arthur's smile stretched wider.
"Ron and Hermione will be joining us in about two months' time."
"Oh!" Molly stared at him, round eyed.
Arthur nodded at her, still grinning. And then the knut fell.
Molly smiled and then it stretched into a grin and soon she was laughing. She jumped up, rounded the table and threw her arms around her husband, ignoring his protest that he had nearly spilled his tea.
"This is the best news I've heard all morning!" Molly exclaimed and gave him a sound kiss.
It looked like her gifts had found a home after all.
- Story End -