This was written for two challenges at the Harry Potter Fanfiction Challenges forum. The first one is the "Flying Solo" Challenge - to write someone on their own who is usually part of a pair or a group. This is Molly without Arthur - "relict" is an old word for "widow".

Part two will be for another challenge at the same forum, and will be up in a day or two.

Relict

I

She has never been alone in The Burrow before.

No, that's stupid, of course she has. Once Ginny started school, there were hours and hours when she was here alone when Arthur was at work.

What she means is she has never lived in The Burrow alone before. It was bought as a family home, and that is what it has always been. She always knew that someone beside herself would be coming home here.

But now, there won't be. She is the only person who lives here now. Of course, her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be in and out as they always have been. (Probably more than ever now that Arthur is gone because they will want to make sure that she is alright. It would not surprise her to discover that Victoire has drawn up a rota.)

She had no end of a job convincing them all that she was not going to stay with any of them, that she was coming home. She cannot blame them for fussing. She knows that they love her, that they are worried about her on her own, that they want to look after her. But they have lives of their own, and she needs to be here. She needs to find herself, to find her life without Arthur, to discover how to go on on her own.

She has no illusions that it will be easy. They were married for over eighty years, together for four before that. "Alone" is not something she has ever had to face. But she has to learn.

She wanders through the house, hearing voices of children long-since grown, picking up the baby shawl that someone (Amalie probably – that girl always forgets something) left in one of the bedrooms, smiling at photos scattered on shelves and window ledges throughout the house.

She finishes in the kitchen, in front of her clock. Arthur's hand – like Fred's and Percy's – is gone now, wrapped with theirs in tissue paper in the bottom of her jewellery box. She sighs and twists at her wedding ring, her face uncertain.

"It's time to take it down, love." Arthur might be standing just behind her, his voice is so clear.

She knows he is right, and she reaches up to lift the clock from the place on the wall where it has hung since the war ended so long ago. She wraps it carefully in a tablecloth and puts it in a corner out of sight. She will ask Bill to get rid of it next time he visits. He will understand why.

Then she turns back to her empty kitchen. She makes herself a cup of tea and carries it into the living room.

Alone starts now.