Note: Just taking a little break from Sirius and the rest of Breathless, my other story. My take on Fred Weasley's death, from the perspective of his mother.
-- -- - - -
Molly Weasley's boggart was restless these days.
At least that's what she called it; her boggart. The sour-minded creature followed her from room to room, she thought to herself, and it didn't seem to pay any attention to the other people in the house. It fixed its single-minded glare to the torture of Mrs. Weasley, day in, day out.
She'd adopted it (adopted it was what she called it) at Hogwarts the night the world had fallen apart at the seams and she'd killed Bellatrix Lestrange. But it had happened before that, because first it had been Fred dying, and later it had been Ginny being attacked. As soon as Ginny had been safe, the boggart had crept back into Fred's still form again. Hadn't it used to take the form of the other children, too? Why was it so fixated on Fred?
The trouble was, she couldn't find the real Fred- because Fred couldn't be dead, it was impossible- no matter how hard she looked. In fact, she couldn't find the real George either; they seemed to have disappeared into thin air. In the days that followed the battle, the boggart had made her a world without the twins, and no matter how she shouted and screamed spells at it, it refused to budge from it's cozy torment of Mrs. Weasley. In this boggart-world, Ginny and Ron were never at the Burrow, but preferred to spend their time holed up in Grimmauld Place with Harry and Hermione, who suddenly seemed uncomfortable in the presence of the Weasleys. Percy and Charlie spent their time alternating between bickering for silly reasons and sending her pitying looks, offering to help with the dishes and breaking them with apologetic faces. Arthur seemed to be unable to look at her at all, and they spent nights turned in opposite directions, their bed shaking from both silently weeping.
On the one occasion she'd managed to locate one of the twins- it was George, but not Fred, who could not be dead- he'd been weeping on the porch in the arms of a girl she vaguely recognized. As she watched them, the girl holding his head to her chest and brushing his hair with her fingers, whispering in his remaining ear, she realized with a start it was Dirk Cresswell's daughter. She looked so much older than she'd ever looked in the yellow and black of her house colors at Hogwarts, holding Molly's son with such careful tenderness, that it made her stomach knot. She was younger than George, Harry and Ron's year, and Mrs. Weasley fought with the uncontainable feeling that in this new, nightmare world, her children, and the children she had known for years, had suddenly become adults without bothering to ask permission of anyone.
"I saw you outside, George." She'd said later as he ate a sandwich at the table and she began dinner. "With Caroline Cresswell."
George said nothing in response, but went very still.
"It made me very angry at you, Georgie, I can't believe you'd do such a thing." Molly said, her voice shaking. George raised his head to stare at her in disbelief. "Caroline's a good two and a half years younger than you, it's positively cradle-snatching!"
"She's eighteen, Mum. An adult for a year already." George had said in a heated whisper.
"She's not an adult- she's practically a child! Be sensible, George. What would her father say if he found out?"
Boggart-George had pushed himself away from the table quickly, turning up the plate and food so that they ended on the floor with a smash.
"Probably not much of anything, I think." He'd said, his chest heaving with anger. "Seeing as he's dead."
Molly stared after the apparition as he strode out of the room, bewildered, but certain it was not her son but a terrifying shadow of George. This could not be the boy whose greatest ambition had never strayed farther than a magical cause for constipation or never-ending fireworks. George had never been so serious, so heavy with the weight of the world, so adult. Besides, Dirk Cresswell was an old friend of Bill and Arthur's, still in his mid-forties or fifties. She found the idea of him dead as unbelievable as the idea of Fred dying. And Fred, her darling, mischievous, youthful son, could not be dead.
But, she remembered as she flicked her wand at the broom to sweep up the mess George had made, Dirk Cresswell was dead, killed with Ted Tonks and so many others in the sweeping check for Muggle-borns conducted by the Death Eaters only months before. She shook her head to clear the cobwebs, feeling sorry for Caroline and glad that her family- Arthur, Bill, Charlie, Percy, George, Ron, Harry, Ginny- were safe and sound after so much disaster. And Fred, she added quickly. Because Fred could not be dead.
That night as she'd climbed into bed, wondering when her world would be righted again, and things would go back to normal, Boggart-Arthur had spoken to her.
"I've scheduled the funeral, Molly." He'd said, his voice heavy. "I've got it all worked out, so don't fuss about it."
"Mm." She'd nodded in agreement, turning back to her book. "Sounds fine, Arthur."
Her fake husband stared at her with great concern, opening and shutting his mouth several times with deliberation.
"Mollywobbles…" he trailed. She flinched at his usage of her precious nickname in a world so marred and obviously unreal. He saw her flinch and said nothing more, curling up under the covers on his side of the bed, removing his glasses tenderly. A few minutes later he began the nighttime ritual of the rocking bed, put into motion by his silent sobbing.
- - - --
Two days later, the family held a funeral. It was for Fred. Molly didn't believe in any of it.
She'd dressed in a lavender robe- the same she'd worn to Bill and Fleur's wedding- and done her hair carefully. When Arthur had questioned her choice of color, he himself dressed in a somber black number, she'd smiled merrily.
"Well if this funeral's for Fred," she'd said, her voice holding the slight twang of hidden laughter, "I figured he wouldn't appreciate black, would he."
Fake Arthur had attempted a smile back at her, but his eyes were cloudy with tears and lack of sleep.
"That's nice, darling." He said, patting her cheek affectionately. "Beautiful idea." His voice sounded a little worried but Molly waved it off. After all, this could not be real, not any of it- because Fred could not be dead. With this in mind, she'd watched unflinchingly as they lowered the casket into the ground at the top of the hill in the cemetery. She could see the real graves of her brothers to the right of the fresh plot. The new stone, which lay on the ground in preparation of its permanent placement, read
Fred Gideon Weasley
April 1, 1978 – May 21, 1998
"Where there is laughter,
there is light."
Around her, people mourned bitterly. Hermione and Ron were wrapped around each other, swaying with the weight of their tears in an unseeing embrace. Ginny and Harry stood, their shoulders touching, tears running down her cheeks. Percy, Charlie, and Bill all cried silently; Fleur bawled delicately, occasionally emitting pretty little sniffs, hidden in the cover of Bill's arms. Arthur looked tortured, and could not take his red-rimmed eyes off George, who had his hand tightly entwined with Caroline Cresswell's and his face screwed up as though staring at something too bright for his vision. Half of the staff of Hogwarts seemed to have turned up for the affair; Minerva McGonagall positively howled. Molly alone refused to cry; she knew this was all a horrible dream, because Fred could not be dead.
At the Burrow, after the funeral, she accepted condolence after condolence after condolence. Even Harry, who seemed wracked with guilt because of his part in the battle, had given her (and after her, George) a tight, apologetic hug, whispering all the words he knew in attempt to express his sorrow. Molly had patted the tormented young man on the back, feeling sorry for him. Even if this horrible day had been real- which it could not be, because Fred could not be dead- she wouldn't have blamed Harry.
Eventually, when a very tearful George and Lee had let off all the fireworks Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes had left into the air above the burrow's front yard, the people who'd been so crammed into her house had left it, evaporating into the night as though confirming her belief that they had never really existed there. She washed the dishes in the quiet kitchen, the counters covered with food she would never eat, humming to herself silently and wondering how much longer her silly boggart could keep this up. As she'd gone to place a few plates in the cupboard, she'd noticed something- the Weasley clock was still missing from the kitchen, haphazardly placed somewhere in the house from her year and a half of dragging it wherever she went. After a quick search, she found it under the bed in Ginny's room, a little dusty but perfectly functioning. With affectionate eyes, she scanned each name, every one of them pointing to the same location- home. All but one- Fred's. Fred's hand, Mrs. Weasley realized slowly, was pointing to "rest".
In the 20 years since he was born, Fred's hand had never once pointed to that part of the clock. Mrs. Weasley dropped it in surprise, taking her wand out of her pocket with shaking fingers.
"Ridikulus!" She screamed steadily, pointing to the clock. But nothing changed; Fred's hand still said "rest".
"Ridikulus!" She shouted again, her voice quivering this time. "Ridikulus! Ridikulus!"
Still, nothing happened to the clock. According to the great, unexplainable nature of her cherished family heirloom, there was no boggart to be had- Fred really was at rest.
With a cry, Molly Weasley fell to the floor, sobbing, devoured by her nightmare-turned-reality.