22nd February 2019
She is so rarely alone here. Arthur usually insists on accompanying her, worried that coming will upset her. He does not understand that sometimes mourning is a normal, natural, right part of being alive. That the alternative is forgetting. Sometimes she just needs to be alone with those she has lost.
She conjures cream roses for the graves of her parents and parents-in-law. She misses them, but her mourning for them is not the same as for the others, the young ones. They lived their full lives.
For Gideon and Fabian, her little brothers, she conjures daffodils and hyacinths as bright and vibrant as they were themselves. There are tears in her eyes as she remembers them. She hates the fact that they never saw the peace which they fought for; that they could not watch their nephews and niece grow up; that they did not live to have wives and children of their own. They missed out on so much.
She hates it too that only Bill and Charlie of her own children really remember their uncles. To Percy and the – to Percy and George they are little more than a hazy memory, to Ron and Ginny only names. She sighs as she touches the weather-worn headstone that bears those names, but she smiles too. She is proud to be their sister.
The next grave is perhaps hardest of all. For Fred – her little boy, her son – she conjures red and orange tulips as vivid as his hair. The tears overflow as she whispers his name. You do not get over losing a child. There are other flowers on this grave – sweet Williams and poppies that she knows are from Bill; orange roses – from Percy maybe; and bright yellow sunflowers that can only be from George.
George, who is a living, breathing reminder – to his family and friends, but hardest of all to himself – of what Fred has missed out on. George, who even now with his successful business, his wife and children, his jokes, fireworks and laughter, sometimes still looks broken and sad, like a lost little boy, half of a whole. George, who hates every birthday that takes him still further away from his twin; who is dreading this year's more than ever because being forty-one will mean that he has lived longer without Fred than with him. The sobs catching in Molly's throat are for George as well as for Fred.
Finally, there is the small grave in the corner; so small that most people do not even notice it is there. There is a tiny headstone with just the initials "MGW" and the date "22nd February 1975". Forty-four years ago exactly – the reason Molly is here today. No one but she and Arthur knows of their first daughter's existence. Bill and Charlie were too young to remember, the others never knew. Perhaps even Arthur has forgotten the details that Molly can never forget – the perfect fingernails; blue-green eyes that none of her siblings share; the down of fuzzy red hair; the warmth of her in the brief hours of her life outside the womb. But Molly is her mother. She does not forget. You do not get over losing a child.
She conjures white daisies for her daughter's grave.
She starts as she hears movement behind her, and turns to see her eldest daughter-in-law watching her with sympathy etched on her face. (She still thinks of Fleur as the eldest, because she is married to Bill and because she is the longest married, even though Percy's wife is actually a few months older.)
"What are you doing here?" she asks, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand, and trying to speak normally.
Fleur smiles. "I needed to escape. My 'ouse is too full of people and noise today. Victoire and Teddy 'ave taken over the living room, and Bill and the others are clearing out the attic and making twice as much mess in the process. I wanted somewhere quiet." (More than twenty years in this country have more or less rid Fleur of her French accent, but she still has difficulty with the English 'h'.)
She turns, and looks at the tiny grave, rather than at Molly.
"What was 'er name?" she asks quietly.
"Margaret Genefer. I always think of her as Daisy," Molly answers without thinking, then turns eyes wide with astonishment on Fleur. "Fleur, how-how did you know? No one knows except me and Arthur. No one. In-in those days, if you lost a baby, you didn't talk about it, you just got on with life. Arthur was only humouring me in agreeing to a headstone for her. Fleur, how did you know?"
Fleur puts an arm around her mother-in-law and hugs her. "We 'ave known for a long time. Bill remembered something when Victoire was tiny about visiting you in 'ospital with a baby girl long before Ginny was born. 'E thought he was imagining things, but 'e asked Arthur about it. Arthur told 'im not to say anything to you, because 'e thought it would upset you. But I thought you should know that you are not the only ones 'oo remember 'er."
"She was so pretty," Molly says, smiling through her tears. "She had the loveliest eyes of any of my babies, and softer hair. She was so small – so small. She was nearly three months too early, and she only lived for four hours. I think about her every day. I love every one of my boys, Fleur, and Ginny. And Ginny was no way a replacement for Daisy – don't think that – you can't replace one child with another. But Daisy was – is – special. She is mine in a way that none of the others are."
Fleur nods, understanding, remembering her own miscarried baby, whose very existence she suspects even Bill now barely remembers. You do not get over losing a child.
"I'm glad you know, Fleur," Molly whispers, kissing her daughter-in-law's cheek. "You understand."
Fleur nods, and blinks back her own tears, "Yes," she says quietly. "I am a mother too."
She pulls out her wand and conjures a bunch of violets to lay beside Molly's daisies. They are for Daisy and for her own lost child.
Time heals, they say, but some healing can never be anything more than superficial.
No mother ever forgets the life she once carried within her own.
A/N This is long - feel free to ignore it if you want! But please review the story anyway.
This story was written for the "Lie of Time" challenge at the Sober Universe forum. The lie, of course, is that time heals everything.
Although Charlie and Percy are only three school years apart, there is actually nearly a four year difference in their ages. Since the biggest gap between any of the other Weasley children is two years between Bill and Charlie, it was too tempting to find a reason for that bigger gap. And of course, it was that much more poignant if the lost baby was a girl. I know that does away with the whole thing of Ginny being the first girl in the family for 200 years, but I thought that people would stll be able to say that if no one beyond Molly and Arthur knew of Daisy's existence. I think it's realistic that in the mid-70s - perhaps especially in the wizarding world, which in some ways is behind our own - Molly would be told to forget about her lost daughter, and that people would not talk about her. Bill and Charlie would have been 4 and 2 when Daisy was born, so I thought it realistic that Bill at least might remember something vaguely about it, but decide that he was imagining things as no one ever talked about the baby afterwards. Percy was born in August 1976, approximately 18 months after Daisy in my story.
I hope the mention of Gideon and Fabian and of Fred don't detract from the main point of the story, which is the lost baby. It just seemed impossible for Molly to be in the graveyard for any reason without remembering them too.
The dates I used are deliberate. The first because using Ginny's birthday just seemed appropriate, and the second because I wanted to use the idea of George living longer without his twin than with him. (I know that's far from being an original idea, but I wanted to use it anyway!) I chose 22nd February because, as a lifelong Girl Guide, that date has a particular resonance for me. If you're not a Girl Guide or Girl Scout, it will probably mean nothing to you, but that doesn't matter for the story. (And if you are, Happy Thinking Day for next week!)
I have been deliberately vague about Victoire's age in the first scene, and about the Weasleys' wives and kids in the second. So you can interpret this fic as being in my own post-DH Alternate/Sensible Universe, or in JKR's official universe. It works in either.