And the Clock Ticks

"It is about the time that you finish washing the last dish that you realize that you can hear the clock ticking." Molly alone in the Burrow. Oneshot.

Life is hard for Harry and his friends, of course, but I think that the person that probably suffers the most through this war is Molly. Seven children, all of them in the thick of things. That is real courage. This is my tribute to her, and her quiet sort of bravery.

Disclaimer: Not JK, don't own it, not making money.

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It is about the time that you finish washing the last dish that you realize that you can hear the clock ticking.

It obviously doesn't need to tick, since it is run by magic and displays not time but location, just as you do not need to wash the dishes by hand when a simple cleaning spell will do the trick. But there is something soothing about the meaningless task, the putting things in order. And your husband has always been eccentric—it's one of the things that you love about him, even if you would never admit it—and if Muggle clocks tick, then yours will, too.

You wander out to stand in front of it and gaze up at the hands. You don't realize that you are twisting the wash towel in your hands; you're too busy thinking that there are far too many hands that are closer to "mortal danger" than to "work" or "school," and you wonder if, indeed, there is any difference anymore. And as you go over the positions of the hands for the tenth time today, the hundredth time this week, noting that, as wrong as it seems, there is only one hand pointing to home—and it is yours—you realize it.

You can hear the clock ticking.

Perhaps for other people, this is not earth-shattering, mind-numbing, heartbreaking. But for you, there is something so very wrong about it, a wrongness that creeps into your bones, settles like a heavy weight in your stomach, wraps a cold hand around your heart. This house was not made for a quiet deep enough that you can hear a clock tick. This house was made to be full to the brim of red hair and freckles and Quidditch brooms and pranks and hot biscuits and dirty laundry and half-finished homework and misplaced chess pieces and laughter and—and life. That's how life has been for almost thirty years, and that's the way it should be. Even at night, it was never quiet in a house that is full of creaks and the ghost in the attic and the snoring of seven men.

You recognize that for the last five years—Merlin, has it been five years since Ginny boarded the Express for the first time?—you and Arthur have been the only ones at home during the school year. And you were lonely and sighed at the quiet and wondered what mischief the twins would make next that would deserve a howler and knitted Christmas jumpers while you agonized over whether Charlie was keeping warm enough and tried to stop yourself from popping into work to see what exactly Bill was doing with whatever girlfriend he was seeing now and worried over what trouble Ron and Harry and Hermione would stumble into this year and if Ginny would insist on being dragged along, too—and…and you can't help it, but you wondered where Percy was today. Somehow, though, that was different.

True, Arthur's been in the thick of things since rumors of Voldemort's return surfaced, and even two years ago Bill was working with the Order and Charlie, the mad boy, was chasing those dragon, and that was so frightening that every once in a while ice water flowed through your veins. And little Ronnie and his friends—who you think of as almost your own—were always managing to barely elude death. You shudder. They've been through far too much for sixteen years. And Ginny—you don't even want to think about what happened to her during her first year; you've been avoiding it since it happened. And you've always sworn that the twins would blow themselves up one day, and Percy….

There's always been danger. Since before Bill was born, there's been a constant cloud of darkness and evil and fate hanging over every moment of every day. Not like when you were young, when all you had to worry about was passing NEWTs and somehow escaping from annoying brothers and sisters and getting the serious, Muggle-obsessed boy on the other side of the Common Room to notice you. Things changed, as they always do. Your baby brother told you that you were crazy to start a family in the middle of a war—he died in a Death Eater attack on the Leaky Cauldron six months after his own wedding. But your Mum had understood, insisting that the only way to fight death is with life.

And you know that's true, now, standing here, dishrag forgotten at your feet, arms wrapped tightly around your body, whether for warmth or comfort you don't know. Your every waking moment—and most of your dreams, as well—is filled with worries and fears and terrors and hopes and denials that only a mother can know. Every owl that taps on the window brings its own sort of dread; there is never any way of knowing that it won't bear news of your children, even if you've always believed that should anything actually happen to them—you cannot ever allow yourself to even think the word death—you would somehow know. You're always making too much for dinner and, even when the children are home, there's always at least one empty chair, a clean white plate staring up at you unflinching and undeniable, and that is own sort of hell. And more often than not, you cry yourself to sleep with Arthur's quiet voice breaking as it tries to soothe you, and your lovemaking is desperate now, yes, but not with passion, as it once was so long ago, but with the need for reassurance, for solidarity, for comfort. And you spend more and more of your time that is now no longer filled with endless laundry and making beds and cleaning bathrooms and cooking for growing boys—you spend that time standing in front of a clock, praying more desperately than you've ever prayed for anything that your family will be spared any more heartache.

But as you hear the clock tick, you know that your mother was right. You are not a warrior, and neither is Arthur, not really. You are a housewife and a mother, and he is a simple clerk and collector and father, though on occasion so much more has been demanded of him. You two could not fight with your wands and your strength, so you fought the darkness the only way you knew how, the only way that really mattered.

With life.

Moody made you burst out weeping once when he unthinkingly made the statement that you'd offered more than anyone else to the Order: you were the only one who'd been raising seven future resistance fighters since their births. But it is true. You did not think about it then, and you rarely allow yourself to consider it now. But they are now the men and the woman you raised them to be: fighting always and forever even to death for what they believe is right—even when, like Percy, they are wrong. You know that because of this, you and Arthur put them in the middle of the dangers that they are now facing.

But you would do nothing differently. Nothing. Because they are the Order, even the ones too young to join it and the one who forsook that path long ago. They are the resistance. They are the last remnants of hope. They are the light. They are life itself.

And so you turn away from the steadily ticking clock for the thousandth time this month and go back into the kitchen. You pull out the pots and pans and set water to boiling and begin to knead the bread dough to make dinner for only two tonight. And your steady work, your carrying on, with the blazing thought of your children always before you is your own tiny rebellion, the only one you know. It is small, smaller than anyone else's perhaps, but it is enough.

And every time you hear the clock tick, you remember life.

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