Title:  The Reaction to 'The Eye of the Snake', because that's what it is.

Summary:  If you didn't catch it from the title, it's the chapter where Arthur is attacked, told from a different point-of-view.

Rating: PG as far as I can tell.

Disclaimer: Not mine.  Dang it.

AN: Howdy!  This is my first attempt at Arthur/Molly fic, so let me know what you think, if you liked it, what I can improve on, etc…

AN2: To all the Designing Women fans reading this (which may be no one, but I thought I'd ask):  I took a line almost straight out of one episode.  Brownie points to anyone who can spot it, and a cookie if you can tell me who said it, and in which episode. : )

Molly lay in bed, unable to sleep.  Arthur was on duty, and the Burrow felt bigger and emptier than it had in a very long time.  Arthur had, of course, been on duty before, and it hadn't ever kept her up this late, but Molly had a strange feeling in her stomach tonight.  Something was off, not quite the same. 

            She tried to shrug it off, push the thought out of her head.  How many times had Arthur reassured her that he would be fine, gently admonished her for worrying so much? This was something that all the Order members took turns doing, something she herself had done on more than one occasion.  He'd be fine.

            Molly rolled over onto her side and closed her eyes, willing herself to just go to sleep.  But the sight of the boggart, in the form of Arthur, lying dead on the floor of the drawing room at number twelve, Grimmauld Place, flashed in her mind, and she snapped her eyes open again, gasping.

            She gave up on sleep then, and instead pulled on her dressing gown, not bothering to tie it, as she was alone—utterly alone—in the house, and headed downstairs to the kitchen.  Molly thought she might bake something.  Baking always seemed to calm her nerves, and Arthur was bound to be hungry when he came home after Emmeline Vance relieved him. 

            Molly went to the pantry and took out flour, sugar, and assorted other ingredients, and deposited them on the counter.  Turning back to the shelves to get the pots and pans she would need, a flash of brilliant gold light flooded the dim kitchen, and a glorious phoenix appeared suddenly, and Molly let out shriek of surprise before she realized who it was and clapped a hand over her mouth.

            She let her hand drop to her chest where she could feel her heart racing.  "Fawkes!" she whispered as the bird fluttered down onto the counter.  "You startled me!"

            The beautiful creature dipped his head and sang one short, low note by way of an apology.  Then he held out his leg, and Molly noticed for the first time he was clutching a letter.

            Fear gripped her heart again.  What did Dumbledore have to say to her that was so important that it couldn't wait until morning?  She spun automatically toward the living room, her eyes falling on the clock on the mantle.  Her four youngest children's hands were pointing at 'School,' and her oldest three's pointed to 'Home'—a different home then hers, of course—along with her own hand, but Arthur's—"No!" she gasped—had landed on 'Mortal Peril.'

            Molly started at the clock in horror, until Fawkes gave another trill, slightly louder than before, to remind her of the letter he still held out to her.  She took it from him with trembling hands and opened it to read Albus's narrow, loopy writing.

Molly—

Harry had a dream that a large snake attacked Arthur, and upon checking at the ministry, we know he was right.  We have alerted the proper people and Arthur is being taken to St. Mungo's.  DO NOT leave the house until the hospital informs you of the accident.  No one must know about Harry's dream.  I am sending your children and Harry to Headquarters now, as it's much closer to the hospital than the Burrow.  You can reach them there.

                                                            —Albus

Molly swayed and tears started rolling down her cheeks.  "Arthur…" Her worst fears were being confirmed.  She sank slowly to her knees.

Fawkes fluttered down off the counter onto the floor next to her.  Lowering his head onto her arm, he started to sing a beautiful song.  As the notes reached her ears, Molly's despair began to ebb away and a sense of hope filled her.  Arthur's attack had been discovered early.  There was every chance he'd recover.

Repeating this to herself, so as not to think of the alternative, she picked herself up off the kitchen floor and went upstairs to get dressed.  She wanted to leave for St. Mungo's as soon as she could.  She kept repeating it to herself as she paced the living room floor, waiting for the news about Arthur.

She fortunately didn't have to wait very long, although it seemed an eternity to her.  A small, red falcon sped in through the window she had opened, and then out again.  This clearly was a bird the hospital used for emergency notification; Molly had never seen a bird fly so fast.  She hastily picked up the note the falcon had dropped on the table.

Mrs. Weasley—

We regret to inform you that your husband, Arthur Weasley, was hurt earlier tonight.  He is alive but in poor condition.  He has been taken to St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries.  The healers here are doing everything they can. Please refrain from apparating here if possible, as worrying about your husband may cause you to lose focus, resulting in splinching.

                                               —Beth Darkins, St. Mungo's Hospital

Molly let out a breath she hadn't known she'd been holding.  He was alive—for now anyway…  Molly shook her head to clear it of such thoughts.  The nurse was right; she was in no fit state to apparate.  She turned back toward the kitchen where Fawkes was perched again on the counter. She stroked his head affectionately, and said "Thank you for waiting with me, Fawkes.  Now, could you take a letter to my children for me?"  The phoenix crooned softly and Molly took this as an affirmative answer.  She scribbled out a note for them and gave it to Fawkes.  She stroked his head once more, and then stood back to let him leave in another flash of dazzling light.

She walked over to the fireplace, and threw a handful of floo powder into the flames calling, "St. Mungo's!"  When she stopped spinning and stepped out of the fireplace she was standing in the waiting room of St. Mungo's, which was almost empty, except for a woman sitting behind the reception's desk, who appeared to be sleeping, with her eyes closed and her head cradled in her hand, but she spoke clearly, startling Molly.

"Are you the Johnson family?" she asked, without opening her eyes.

"No, I'm Molly Weasley.  My husband—" But the flames whirled up behind her and the receptionist cut her off, telling her to move away from the fireplace.  A man and a woman carrying a little girl, whose feet were swelling at an alarming rate, stepped out of the flames.

"The Johnson family?" the receptionist asked, still without opening her eyes.  The man carrying the girl replied positively, and the receptionist continued, "Third floor, healers are waiting for you."  After the family had left the waiting room, the receptionist turned her face towards Molly again. "Now dear, what was your name?"

"Molly Weasley.  My husband, Arthur Weasley, was attacked, and…" Molly trailed off.  The receptionist had finally opened her eyes and was giving Molly a pitying look.

"Yes, of course," she said softly.  "Mr. Weasley is in an emergency care room on the first floor.  The healers are with him now.  I'm afraid you can't see him now, but if you would wait here in the lobby, some one will be down to talk to you."

Molly shook her head.  "Can't I be closer to him?  Please?"

The receptionist caved at the pleading look in Molly's eyes.  "All right.  I can't let you go into the room, but he's in the second room on the left on the first floor.  You can at least look in through the window, and you can wait outside his room."

Molly sighed shakily and thanked the woman.  She could feel the tears welling up in her eyes again.  She hurried through the doors into the stairway, and then climbed to the first floor.  At the second door on the left, she took a deep, shaky breath and peered through the window.

Arthur was lying on a hospital bed surrounded by three healers who all looked very grim-faced.  At first, Molly only saw Arthur's head.  He was unconscious, horribly pale and sweating profusely.  Then one of the wizards working on him moved away from the bed, revealing his side.  A gaping wound, a terrible mark that was bleeding freely, marred his pallid skin.

Molly gasped and placed a steadying hand against the door jam to keep from falling, as her knees suddenly felt very weak.

She stumbled backwards and leaned heavily against the wall opposite the door of the emergency room.  "No…No…Arthur…" she moaned quietly.

Molly didn't know how long she stayed that way.  At some point, a healer walking down the hall saw her and conjured up a chair for her, but Molly hardly took any notice.  She sat, too upset to even sob, tears just rolling down her cheeks.  She couldn't lose Arthur.  She couldn't.  She needed him.  He completed her; she couldn't be whole without him.  She couldn't lose him.

Some time later, the healers came out of the room deep in conversation.  They saw Molly, who stood up and told them whom she was.  One wizard gestured for her to sit down again and told the other two wizards to go ahead.

The man drew up a chair next to her and sat down.  "Mrs. Weasley, your husband was attacked, from what we can tell, by a large snake, though we can't be sure until he can tell us.  We were lucky he got here so quickly, but even so, he'd lost a lot of blood by the time he arrived, and we had difficulty stemming the flow once he was here.  We checked the wound, and there doesn't appear to be any poison in his bloodstream, so we're not too concerned with that.  He has a high fever right now, and we still can't stop the bleeding, but we've given him a Blood-Replenishing potion, and cleaned and bandaged the wound, and he's stable.  We can't be more certain of his prognosis until he wakes up, which could be in the next few hours, but it could also be a much longer time.  And, to be blunt, the longer he's unconscious, the less chance there is for full recovery.   But we've done everything we can, and we have high hopes that he'll be fine."

Molly was still silently crying, now harder than ever.  The doctor squeezed her hand reassuringly, and made to stand up.  "Can I see him?" Molly choked out.

The doctor hesitated, and then acquiesced to her wishes.  He took her into the room and pulled a chair up to the bed, then left the room quietly.

Molly started at Arthur as she sank into the chair.  He still looked pale, his skin ashen against the blue sheets, which were drawn up to his chest.  She raised one trembling hand to his shoulder, just lightly touching him.  His skin felt hot and slick under her fingertips.  She gently skimmed her fingers down his arm to his hand, which she took gingerly in her own hands.  Lacing their fingers together, she kissed the back of his hand and the ring on his fourth finger and clicked it softly against her own ring.

Molly watched him in silence for some time before speaking through the tears still running down her face.  "Arthur, I know I should be happy to have loved, and been loved, by someone as wonderful as you," Her voice broke here. "But, if you die now, if you leave me, I don't think I could live."  She broke down, shaking with the sobs she'd been suppressing since Fawkes had arrived at the Burrow.

She quieted after some time and just sat with Arthur.  He was motionless, which scared Molly more than anything else.  If he'd just move, just squeeze her hand, anything, she'd feel better.  After a while a nurse came into the room to check on Arthur.  She changed the bandage, gave him another Blood-Replenishing potion, and announced the Arthur's fever was going down.  Then asked Molly if there was anything she could do for her.  Molly asked if there was an owl she could use to tell Bill, Charlie, and Percy what had happened.  She considered sending an owl to her younger children, but realized she didn't have anything new to tell them.

The nurse led Molly to the fifth floor where there was a small station set up for post.  It didn't cost much to send an owl to Bill and Percy, who were both living in London, but it was quite a bit more to mail a letter to Charlie.  Molly wrote hurried letters and paid the man behind the desk as quickly as she could, anxious to get back to Arthur.

As she walked into the room again, she noticed something that made her heart jolt: his hand had moved.  She was quite sure that it had been at his side when she had left, but now it was resting on his stomach.  Could he be awake?

Molly moved to his side and sat on the edge of the bed, taking his hand in hers again, watching him intently.  His head turned slightly toward her and his eyes fluttered open.  "Molly?" he whispered hoarsely.

Tears were rolling down Molly's face again, but this time she was smiling.  "I'm here, Arthur.  I'm right here."

He smiled weakly and shivered.  Molly drew the sheets and blanket further up on his chest before going to find a healer.

By the time the wizard had examined Arthur, and proclaimed a full recovery was to be expected, Arthur had gained a lot of energy.  The healer said he'd have to stay at the hospital until the bleeding could be stopped, but that it shouldn't be too long until he could return home.  Molly thanked him as he left, tears running down her cheeks yet again.

"Molly, I'm fine, stop crying," Arthur said gently as she moved to sit on the edge of the bed again.

Molly laughed softly.  "I've been crying all night, Arthur, I don't think you just telling me to stop is going to work."

Arthur pulled her down to lie beside him and they embraced awkwardly, careful of his injury.  "Well, what will work then?" he said, pressing a gentle kiss on her forehead.

"I don't kn—" she started shyly, but Arthur cupped her chin with his hand and turned her head so that his next kiss caught her lips.  Startled, Molly froze for a moment, before relaxing against him and returning the kiss. 

The kiss was not as passionate as other kisses they had shared had been, as Arthur was recovering and Molly had been up all night, but it was intense in how it reassured them.  Molly could feel Arthur's body stretched next to hers, and she knew he hadn't left her.  Arthur held onto Molly as tightly as he could, and he knew he was alive.