The Riddle of Jim Lillian
Part Eleven: Molly's Tale
Standard Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
WARNING: Major Character Deaths
Part Eleven Summary: The Weasleys and Kinsley learn the answer to the Riddle
13th August, 2005
'The Burrow hasn't felt so alive in years,' Molly Weasley thought to herself as she placed another dirty pan into the sink. The Weasley matriarch smiled as she looked out the back window and watched all of her grandchildren romping around in the garden; well, all of her grandchildren who had already learned how to walk that is. Three-month old Theodore ("Teddy-Bear") Weasley slept on his mother's lap.
"'Course, now he sleeps," a lime-green haired Tonks whispered to her mother in law. "I swear Teddy-Bear was up all night last night."
"Don't fret, Tonks dear," Molly said, with only a slight pause on her daughter-in-law's name. Molly was still upset that she had to refer to Charlie's wife by her surname. "It's just a phase; he'll grow out of it soon enough."
"Why don't we put the little tyke in his crib?" Charlie said in-between cooing at his son. "We don't want his cousins to wake him, now do we?"
As if on cue, a loud bang echoed throughout the house as the front door to the Burrow flew open, and Fred and George stomped in.
"Did she get it?" the twins shouted in unison.
Molly swiftly walked up to her twins and slapped a wooden spoon across Fred's left hand.
"Oi, what's that for?" George asked as Fred winced in pain.
"Be quiet, or you'll wake the baby!" Molly scolded the twins in a hushed tone as she whacked George's hand for good measure.
"Sorry, mum," Fred and George muttered in unison, while rubbing the backs of their hands.
"S'right boys, he's still asleep," Tonks said cradling her baby as she walked past the twins. "I'm gonna take him up to one of the rooms, just in case, though."
"To answer you question," Charlie said as he thumped Fred on the back in greeting, "we haven't heard from Ginny yet."
"Oh, I do hope she'll get the job," Molly moaned as she wringed her hands. Even though Ginny had just learned of the position of Hogwarts' Flight Instructor being available, she had her heart set on it. Molly truly did hate to see any of her children disappointed, but especially her only daughter.
"Mum, what's wrong?" Bill asked as he noticed his mother's obvious nervous anxiety. He had just entered from the garden followed by his wife, Fleur, along with the family patriarch, Arthur.
"Oh, mum's just worried that Ginny is going to get turned down," Charlie answered.
"Mum, Ginny's the best flyer there is," Fred said.
"Yeah, and, more importantly, she's brilliant with kids," George added.
"Minerva would be foolish to not hire her," Arthur said, as he hugged Molly comfortingly. Charlie, Bill, and the twins happily joined in the family embrace.
As all of the Weasleys were locked in a family embrace, their attention was drawn toward the fireplace as the normal red and yellow flames turned into a bright green.
"Well, here's our little girl now," Arthur beamed.
To the Weasleys' collective surprise, it was not Ginny who stepped out of the fire, Kingsley Shacklebolt did. The tall, bald Auror looked at the surprised red-haired clan.
Before Kingsley could greet the family, a cheerful voice called out from the stairwell.
"Wotcher, Shack," Tonks called out as she re-entered the room. "What're you doing here?"
"Sorry about arriving uninvited, Arthur, Molly," Kingsley apologized as he awkwardly greeted the family. "I received a very unusual note from Minerva asking me to meet her here. It said that she had something of great importance to tell all of us."
"That's odd," Molly said. "Minerva hasn't contacted us yet. It's unlike her to not notify us in advance."
"Well, the most unusual part of the message was how it was delivered," Kingsley added. "The note was delivered by Fawkes."
"Fawkes?" the twins blurted out.
"Dumbledore's phoenix?" Charlie asked.
"But no one has seen or heard from Dumbledore in years," Arthur stated.
"Does that mean he's come back?" Bill interjected.
Before Kingsley could respond, the fireplace erupted in green flames once more, and Ginny stormed out of the hearth and into the room. The red-haired witch rushed past Kingsley without even acknowledging him, and hugged her mother and father.
"Mum, Dad, I've got great news!" Ginny exclaimed happily.
"So, did you get the position?" Arthur asked.
"Huh? What position?" Ginny asked completely bewildered at her father's question.
"The Flight Instructor for Hogwarts."
"Oh, that," Ginny replied, as she waved her hand as if the concept was inconsequential. "Yes, but that's not what's so great."
Before Ginny could elaborate, the fireplace erupted once again, and Minerva McGonagall gracefully stepped out followed by Remus Lupin.
"Ginny, are the children outside?" Minerva asked without acknowledging the others in the room. Molly was taken back; it wasn't like Minerva to be so rude.
"Yes, they are," Ginny answered after she quickly scanned the room.
"Remus, if you would please keep the children entertained?" Minerva asked gesturing to the door.
"Of course," Remus answered and waved politely to the Weasley clan before walking outside. Molly heard Remus place a locking and silencing charm on the door.
"Minerva, what is going on?" Molly demanded as her patience finally wore out.
"I don't believe I should be the one to tell you," Minerva said and Hermione Granger stumbled out of the fireplace.
But before the Weasleys could greet or ask Hermione what was going on, the man known as Jim Lillian fell gracelessly from the green flames and landed flat on his face with a painful thud.
"I hate traveling by floo," Jim moaned as he picked himself off of the ground. "I don't understand why we just didn't have Fawkes teleport us from Minerva's office."
"He was busy delivering the note to Kingsley, if you recall," Hermione told him.
A burst of crimson flames illuminated the room as Fawkes magically appeared. The phoenix flew once around the room before landing on Jim's shoulder.
"Now you show up," Jim ruefully said to Fawkes. The phoenix trilled a short note that sounded suspiciously like a chuckle.
"Would someone mind telling us what's going on?" Bill asked loudly.
Jim seemed to scan the room apprehensively before asking Ginny, "Percy isn't here, is he?"
"Oh, no. Today was the first time any of us have even seen him in years," Ginny answered and then added: "The git."
"You saw Percy today?" Bill asked. "What was that prat up to now?"
"He was trying to get Minerva to authorize a statue of Harry to be erected on the school grounds," Ginny said. Molly was confused by her peculiar actions. For some odd reason, when Ginny said Harry's name, she jabbed her thumb in the direction of Lillian.
Molly felt a pang of guilt at the mention of Percy's name. It was bad enough to lose a son to violence, as she knew. She lost two sons during the Final Battle; only one may have been from her womb, but the other was mutually accepted as to be her son as well. However, to have a son consciously sever all ties with his family was even more heart wrenching. Percy was alive and well, but refused to be associated with his family out of anger and spite, and a sense of misplaced pride. Molly spent many nights worrying herself sick over her third eldest son.
"You should have seen Hermione tell him off," Ginny continued.
"Ginny, that's not why we're here," Hermione interrupted. The brunette witch turned to face the Weasley clan. "We have something rather important to tell you."
"Tell us what, dear?" Molly asked.
Hermione turned to face Jim, who had started to pace back and forth behind her.
"I don't know where to start," Jim mumbled.
"It's alright," Hermione said as she laid her hand on Jim's arm. Jim stopped pacing and smiled at her. He took a seat next to Hermione as she continued. "I'll start at the beginning. A year before his birth, a prophesy was made concerning Harry and Voldemort."
"Yes, Arthur told us what you had said after the Final Battle," Molly said. "That poor boy was hunted his entire life…" The Weasley matriarch wiped a tear from her eye at the memory of her lost surrogate son.
"Well, do you remember the one line that specifically stated: 'And either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives…'?" Hermione paused as the Weasleys pondered that phrase."It clearly stated that for either Harry or Voldemort to live, one had to be killed by the other. You said it yourself Molly, when you said Harry was hunted his entire life. Voldemort was obsessed with Harry and pursued him nearly every day. That is no way for anyone to live: hunted and hunter."
"But wait a tic," George or Fred, Molly wasn't certain which one, interrupted because she was wrapped up in trying to follow what Hermione was trying to impart. "Harry died a few minutes after Ol' Snake-Face did."
"Well, yes, technically speaking, he did," Hermione answered. Almost all of the Weasleys, save for Ginny, shared a puzzled look. "I'll ask you a question: would Harry have enjoyed all the attention that he is getting now? All the monuments, the endless hero worship?"
"No, he despised all of that rubbish," Molly answered. "It would have driven him mad. He was such a humble boy."
"So, it is safe to say that Harry could not truly 'live' with all of the attention?" Hermione asked the group.
"No, he would have hated it," Bill agreed.
"Am I the only one who's lost?" one of the twins asked his family.
"Maybe this will help to clear things up a bit," Hermione stated and walked up in front of Tonks. "You and I know a secret about Harry; something no one else besides Dumbledore knew."
"Yeah, he was a Metamorphmagus, like me," Tonks replied sadly.
"No, Tonks, he is a Metamorphmagus like you," Hermione corrected her softly.
"What?" Tonks blurted out. After a moment, Tonks' eyes fell on Lillian who was still seated. The green-haired witch slowly stood up and made her way toward Jim.
"I'm sorry, Tonks," Jim said as tried to fight back tears. "I wanted to tell you… all of you the truth, really… but I had to wait."
Tonks knelt down in front of Lillian and gently removed his shaded glasses.
"Sweet Merlin!" Tonks gasped. She cupped his face in her hands, leaned in and kissed him gently.
"Hey, what the hell is going on?" Charlie shouted, stunned that his wife was kissing another man.
"Wotcher, Harry," Tonks said through her own tears as she pulled away from Jim.
Each of the Weasleys and Kingsley had the same confused look about their faces.
"Tonks… what did you just call him?" Molly asked, completely confused and dumbfounded.
"Do it, Harry, revert to your normal self," Tonks said quietly to Jim.
Jim screwed his eyes shut and great streams of unshed tears fell from them. The Weasleys gasped in unison as they saw Jim's hair and features change into that of a man they had not seen in seven years. One that they thought they would never see again.
"HARRY!" Fred, George, Bill, and Charlie shouted and rushed the short man sitting in front of Tonks. The older two Weasley children scooped Harry up in an embrace shortly before Fred and George leapt on all of them, sending the entire group of all five men crashing to the ground.
"Gerroff, Gred, Forge," Harry's muffled voice was heard from beneath the pile of bodies.
"Boys, get off of him!" Arthur shouted as he pulled Bill out of the pile. After Fred, George, Bill, and Charlie stood up, Arthur grabbed Harry around the shoulders in a fatherly hug. "It's good to have you back, Harry."
"But how…?" Fred asked.
As Hermione filled the clan in on the actions Dumbledore had taken so that Harry could lead a normal life, Kingsley and the Weasleys, except for Molly, all hugged Harry, and Fleur placed kisses all over Harry's face. Molly stood, ashen faced and unmoving in the back of the room."Pardon me, Jim… I mean Harry… I have a question that has been bothering me since the day you resigned. About the Malfoy/Lestrange execution," Kingsley began as he grabbed Harry's shoulder. "What the bloody hell did you say to Bellatrix Lestrange after she took the poison?"
"Oh well, I'm not particularly proud of that…" Harry muttered as he shifted his weight between his feet. "And it wasn't especially bright…"
"It was stupid is what it was," Hermione barked. She leveled her steely gaze on Harry as she continued to lecture him. "Lestrange could have easily ruined everything with a few words."
"So, what did you say?" George chimed in.
"After she had killed Sirius, Lestrange mocked me by calling me 'wee-baby Potter,'" Harry said. "And when she drank the poison, I couldn't get past how smug and proud she looked, like she actually believed that Voldemort would return and resurrect her. I just couldn't help myself.
"So, I walked over to her and lowered my glasses to show her my real eye color, and said 'If Voldemort does come back, then this "wee-baby Potter" will stop him again.'
"I know it was petty, but I couldn't stand to see her face death like it was a meaningless joke. That it was something she could shrug off. Not after what she had done to all those people, made them beg, made them suffer. I just wanted to see her grovel."
After a tense moment of awkward silence, Fred said:
"Well, I think it worked didn't it?"
Everyone laughed at Fred's rhetorical question. After a few seconds, Harry saw Mrs. Weasley. She was still standing stone-faced in the back of the room, as if she were in shock. Everyone fell silent as Harry approached the unmoving matriarch.
"I'm so sorry Mrs. Weasley," Harry said softly as he tried to fight back another bout of tears. "I wanted to tell you… I should have told you. I'm sorry for making you think that I was dead."
Harry stood in front of Molly, who just stared past him, as if he wasn't there.
"Please forgive me, Mrs. Weasley," Harry begged.
"I don't ever want to hear you call me that again," Molly began as she finally looked into Harry's tear filled eyes. These were the same tear-filled eyes that she saw after the final task for the Tri-Wizard tournament when Harry was in the hospital ward. The poor boy had been riddled with ill-placed guilt and was blaming himself for Cedric's death. Molly held him then like a mother as Harry sobbed in her arms.
She knew that Harry had never been held like that before and it just broke her heart. Harry needed that love; the love that was taken away from him when his mother was murdered. Molly knew from that moment in the hospital ward that Harry wasn't just her son's best friend anymore; she would do her best to fill that awful void in Harry's life.
Over the next two years, Molly had tried to bond with the young man. Her affection for him continued to grow until she considered him as her own son. Then that dreadful day happened, and two of her boys were torn away from her. The grief that she felt was nearly unbearable.
Now, years after she had lost him, Harry stood in front of Molly pleading for forgiveness. All the years of pain and sadness seemed to disappear as Molly looked into her Harry's eyes.
"I don't ever want to hear you call me 'Mrs. Weasley' again," Molly repeated as a slight bloom appeared on her cheeks. With trembling hands, she cupped Harry's face and said: "You call me Mum."
Author's Notes: Thanks to my beta, sasqch, who was a big help (even inadvertently suggesting the plot when he asked: "Do you think Rowling will have Harry fake his own death?"). Also, thanks to my other beta, Penelope78, who worked on the re-beta. I'd like to thank the late Akira Kurosawa, whose classic "Rashomon" inspired the manner in which this story was told.
I would also like to thank everyone who took the time to read and left a review for my story. – Bob