Hi guys! :D Round 13 of the QLFC is upon us! I had to do a Molly/Arthur story this time (twist my arm). :) Hope you like!


6 August 1995

Molly hovered outside the door of the bedroom that Harry and Ron were sharing, hearing the telltale snap that meant Fred and George had just Disapparated from within. Of course they did, she thought angrily to herself. Of course they're talking, why would any of them bother to listen to me?

She moved away from the door without stomping her feet—only because waking up the portrait of Walburga Black yet again was utterly unappealing—and retreated through the dark corridors, her wandtip lit so that she could find her way to the bedroom she and Arthur were sharing. She reached the black door and put her hand to the silver, snake-shaped handle. The door swung open silently and she shut it behind her, moving to the bed, where she sank down and took a deep, shaky breath.

Remus, Arthur, Bill, and the others were likely still down in the kitchen. She didn't want to be there, anyway; an Order member she may have been, but she obviously hadn't inherited the entirely cavalier attitude that seemed to come along with membership. She couldn't believe Remus had overridden her—that Arthur had done it, too. She expected single-mindedness of that intensity from Sirius, by now, but Arthur and Remus—didn't they see that she had a responsibility to protect the people she joined to protect in the first place?

Molly was filled with a burning, prickling anger that made her restless. She wished she'd thought to bring more of her knitting with her from the Burrow; at least her itching hands would have something to do that wasn't strangling Sirius Black with her bare hands…

She was immediately overcome with a wave of remorse for the thought, and her own nasty words came back to her, floating through her brain…

"It's been rather difficult for you to look after him while you've been locked up in Azkaban, hasn't it?"

She shouldn't have said it, Molly knew that. It didn't make it easier to digest the fact that they all thought her foolish, silly, and backward for wanting to shield Harry—from what, exactly? From all that she'd heard from Severus Snape at tonight's meeting, that was what.

There was a creak out on the landing. Remus, Sirius, and Arthur were all coming up to bed, unless Kreacher was creeping around again. She looked at her watch; it was late, Bill would have to be going home by now, which meant that Arthur would likely be along any moment.

Sure enough, the bedroom door swung open softly and Arthur poked his face into the room, as though he was checking to see if she'd gone to sleep. Molly flicked her wand and turned on the light beside the bed, filling the room with a dull, yellowish glow that didn't really help the dingy gray of the striped satin wallpaper.

Arthur and Molly stared at each other for almost thirty seconds before he closed the door quietly and came to sit down beside her, sinking down on the sagging mattress with a soft sigh. He clasped his hands together between his knees.

"You didn't come back downstairs," he said.

Molly shook her head. She could tell that Arthur was studying her out of the corner of his eye.

He sighed again. "You know that…that I didn't mean anything by intervening? That I don't think you're wrong?" He paused for a moment. "I would've put a stop to it myself, if you hadn't walked in at that moment. There are certain things…"

"They shouldn't know any of it," Molly said in a low voice. "They're too young, they—"

"I don't disagree, Molly," Arthur said. He laid his hand over hers, which were folded in her lap. She stared at the gleam of his wedding ring in the yellow lamplight. "I don't disagree that all of them, even Bill and Charlie—they're all far too young to have this happening in their lives. If it were up to me, it wouldn't be happening at all. And you're a wonderful mother," he said, startling her. She frowned at him, and one corner of his mouth lifted.

"You always know what to do—what to say to them, to make them feel like it will be all right," Arthur said. "But…" he heaved another sigh. "We can't go around promising that this time, Mollywobbles. This is an entirely different dragon we're facing. And Harry…well, we know that we've really only heard about half of what he's been through from Ron…"

"That doesn't mean he should be expected to cope with anything we throw at him, Arthur!" Molly whispered, feeling tears sting her eyes. "You weren't there when he came out of that maze, I was! He was—it was like part of him had died in there, and now after spending the summer with those vile people—how much can he stand? It's not fair to him, not at all—"

"I don't disagree," Arthur said again, looking sorrowful. "But that—there's only so much we can do about his…situation. The most we can do, Molly—Molly," he said, for she had tried to pull away from him, "the most we can do for him is to welcome him back to our world—his world—with open arms, and as much honesty as we can muster."

The words sent a chill up Molly's neck. "You heard what Severus said tonight. He is after a prophecy, like Dumbledore thought. And it must be about Harry—why else would he have sent those dementors last week? If you were barely fifteen, wouldn't that crush you?"

Arthur chewed the inside of his lip thoughtfully. "Harry has been through more than anyone I know, including most of the Order. If anyone deserves a bulletin update on something this relevant to his life…"

"It's not about what he deserves, Arthur, it's about what he can cope with," Molly insisted. "And before you say that I'm being ridiculous, stop and think for a moment. Think about Harry, the last time you saw him, and then think about the boy you saw tonight. He's had only himself for company for two months. Tossing him into deep water and telling him to tread doesn't mean he'll swim instead of sink. Dumbledore and I have had our differences about Harry, but he and I are agreed on him not being told more than he needs to know."

"I know, Molly," Arthur said tiredly. "But the fact is…we aren't Harry's parents. They, and what they would or would not do in his best interests…aren't here anymore. And much as we might wish otherwise, it's not up to us—either of us—to fill that space."

Molly's eyes filled with tears. "You make it sound as though he's all alone."

"Of course he isn't," Arthur said, almost sharply, but his voice sounded constricted, as well. He smoothed a wavy red strand behind her right ear. "And he knows that. How can he be, when he has the most loving woman in the world threatening to fight a convict in a dark basement on his behalf?"

Molly choked on her laughter, and drove her shoulder into his side. "All right. I'll…speak to Sirius in the morning. He's maddening, but it won't kill me to apologize for what I said."

"You know who he reminds me of?" Arthur said thoughtfully, rising from the bed and going to the dresser to find his pajamas. "Just in flashes, and especially the way you row with each other…"

"My brothers," Molly nodded, with a slight, fond smile. "According to Minerva, they were all the same mold."

"Interesting," Arthur grinned. "I was actually going to say Fred and George."

Molly looked around at him in surprise, and they stared at each other for a moment. Then, at the same time, they both broke into laughter and said, "Same mold."