This second chapter is for the "Fluffy bunny" challenge at the HP Fanfiction Challenges forum.
It has been a year. A year of being one instead of half of a pair. A year of "I" instead of "we".
It has been hard, and strange. An unfamiliar landscape that has been hard to navigate. Cooking for one. Making decisions alone – and somehow even the simplest, most trivial decisions are harder now. Sleeping alone, and waking every morning to the sense of something – someone – missing.
They have looked after her of course. As she expected, there has not been a day when one or more of the family has not turned up on her doorstep to check she is okay. They have excuses ("I was on my way home…", "I knew you'd give me a cup of tea and not nag me about Drew…", "Meggie wanted you to taste the cookies she made…"), but she knows why they come, and she cannot blame them.
They worry about her, as she does about them. (Freddie and Anna are working much too hard; Suzanne and Drew are far too young to be quite so serious; Mara and Jay really need to start studying properly if they are going to pass their NEWTs.)
Most of all, and surprisingly, she worries about her own children. It is odd to be the mother of old people, and to worry about them as much as she did when they were children. (Bill's scars are clearly hurting him again; Charlie is miserable since his last injury means he is confined to the house; George is missing Fred more now than he has for years; Ron looks tired; Ginny is too busy fussing about everyone else to take care of herself.)
She misses Fred and Percy every day. And Fabian, Gideon, her parents and Arthur's, Andromeda, Poppy, Apolline … so many people gone before her.
But she does not miss Arthur in the same way. She finds herself talking to him all the time, whatever she is doing. And if his answers are just in her imagination, does it really matter? She talks to him, and he answers, and sometimes it is as if he has never left her. (She tries not to do it when other people are around, but sometimes she forgets. It is just one more reason why the family worry about her.)
But she is tired.
One morning in May, she wakes, and there is something different about the light. It is brighter, more intense, more focused. She can hear voices, but cannot work out where they are coming from.
Why is George here?
It isn't George. She turns her head on the pillow and sees Fred grinning at her. Percy is just behind, looking no older than his brother despite the more than fifty years that separated their deaths. She can see her parents too, and her brothers…
Then she sees him. Arthur. Smiling at her as he did on their wedding day, holding out his hand.
She stands and takes his hand.
A/N "Fluffy bunny" is code for "kill off your main character". I couldn't leave Molly on her own for too long!
For those who've asked about he timing of this story - Molly and Arthur were married at twenty and twenty-one respectively in my universe, and since they were married for over eighty years before Arthur died, they are both well over a hundred. Bill is in his eighties, Ginny in her seventies, even Victoire in her mid-fifties... It is more than fifty years since Voldemort's defeat. Percy died a few years ago, probably of a wizarding illness, and was over seventy.