For Gaby Black's "Back to School" Challenge at the Harry Potter fanfiction Challenges Forum.

The song belongs to Abba, of course, and the Weasleys to JK Rowling. If I owned either of them, I'd be a lot richer than I am...

Slipping Through My Fingers

"Schoolbag in hand she leaves home in the early morning

Waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile"

This was the hardest of all. Molly had known it would be. Ginny was her youngest, her baby, her only girl.

And knowing that this was the last first time was odd.

(After Bill left on the train for the very first time, Molly woke in the middle of the night crying because one day it would be Ginny on that train. Arthur did not understand. "Moll, she's a year old. Why are you worrying about it now?" Molly did not fully understand herself, but she held her baby girl close and cried and cried.)

Watching Bill get on the train for the first time was hard. He was trying to be brave and grown up, but Molly was his mother and she knew how scared he was. But he grinned at her, and told her off for crying, and she saved the worst of her tears for after he was gone.

It was practically impossible to be upset when Charlie left. He had been so desperate to join Bill at Hogwarts, and he had an air of resiliency and indestructibleness that Bill had never had. Besides, Bill would look after him. (And Molly did not miss the fact that Charlie was double-checking every five minutes exactly where Bill was.)

Percy was another matter altogether. So eager to do well, to prove himself as good as the older brothers he idolised, pretending that he was annoyed by his mother's instructions to Charlie to look after him. (Bill had disappeared to the Prefects' carriage as soon as he possibly could.) But he was quieter and more conventional than either Bill or Charlie, more difficult to know, building a wall around himself that was hard to get past, and Molly worried about him more in his first year than she had about either of his brothers. She cried as the train left with him on it for the first time.

The twins, of course, were a law unto themselves. Molly felt guilty that a tiny part of her mind was looking forward to some peace and quiet once they were gone. She was not supposed to feel like that about any of her children going away. But they would be fine. They were as resilient as Charlie, and they had each other. (And Charlie and Percy would do their level best to keep them out of trouble – which was as much as she could ask of either of them.) So she was quite composed as she kissed the twins goodbye on the platform – despite their protests – and saw them onto the train with their trunks. But as the train pulled away, she saw the look on George's face, and the panic in Fred's eyes, and she thought how very young they looked, and she cried all the way home.

By the time Ron started, two years later, Molly felt that she could handle seeing a child off to school for the first time. And, really, it was not so bad. Trying to keep track of where the twins were, to deal with Ginny's sulks, to try and catch a word with Percy before he disappeared with his fellow Prefects, kept her too occupied to be upset about Ron leaving. Not to mention meeting Harry Potter on the Platform. Perhaps he and Ron would be friends. She had no time for tears on that occasion.

But now it was Ginny's turn. The last first time. Ginny was excited, but quieter than usual, keeping unnaturally close to her mother and brothers. She had wanted this since she was four years old, and old enough to understand where Bill and Charlie were going. But now it was happening to her.

Molly managed to keep it together until Percy and the twins were safely on the train. (Ron and Harry seemed to have disappeared, but she was sure they must be around somewhere.) But once Ginny was on board, leaning out of the window to kiss her parents goodbye, Molly's tears began to flow. Ginny, her baby – her last baby - was leaving. She barely saw the Express departing because she was crying so hard, and she was positively sobbing as she and Arthur made their way back to the car.

(It was almost a relief when the car's absence and the realisation that Ron and Harry must have taken it gave her something else to think and worry about.)

"The feeling that I'm losing her forever

And without really entering her world


Slipping through my fingers all the time"