April 20th 2010

September 9th, 2010

Mrs. Weasley was never really quite sure when she had begun to consider him "as good as." If it had anything to do with appearances, it never would have happened. If anything, the contrast between his raven hair and her redheaded brood, his emerald compared to their brown eyes, had just enforced this impression. His eyes reflected how motherless he was, his untidy hair how without a father, his scar just a tourist attraction in public, and each one of the Weasleys could see how much the boy despised being dragged into the spotlight because of it. They were all minor signs, to her at least, that he was alone.

Perhaps it had been the first day, really, even though she hadn't known just who the polite eleven-year-old had been. Perhaps it had been the moment when he approached on quiet feet and asked in a nervous quaver just how to get onto the platform. At first, before she had known who he was, Mrs. Weasley had wondered just where the boy's parents were. It was a cruel joke if they had left him to find it for himself, but she figured that no Wizarding parent would stoop that low, so she figured he must be a Muggle-born whose parents just didn't have a clue. And then the twins had hurried back, rushing and stumbling over their words in their haste to explain just whom they had met on the train. Harry Potter. As in, The Harry Potter. Defeater of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Tragic hero even before he reached Hogwarts, and the son of two brilliant wizards.

She admitted it. She had been fairly excited after hearing that bit of news. The parents remembered those dark years before, the very minutes filled with dread that their family would be next, their names in the obituaries in the Daily Prophet the following morning. And yet, she remembered the vulnerable look in his striking eyes, the uneasiness at this sudden new world. She remembered his second-hand, oversized clothing that draped on his thin frame, and she wondered just what the Muggles taking care of him were thinking.

By the end of Ron's first year at Hogwarts, she was pretty sure what they were thinking. Ron made an obvious effort to not talk only about his new friend in his letters, but the rest of the Weasleys were able to gather the basics about Harry's Muggle relatives, along with a few other interesting facts.

We didn't mean to fight a troll, mum! Ron had insisted sometime in early November. Hermione Granger-that smart girl I mentioned earlier-she was in the girl's lavatories, crying, and she had no idea about the troll. Don't let Percy give you grief about us, please. And if you're angry at him for letting us get away, he told me to tell you to "shift your attention elsewhere" because we got away when he was dealing with a ton of other "scared senseless First Years." But then Harry grabbed my sleeve and said that Hermione didn't know, so we ran back towards the bathrooms to knock-we weren't going to go in-and tell her, but the troll went in, so we sort of had to follow. Good news is, I no longer hate that girl quite as much and I'm really good at Wingardium Leviosa now!

She'd never forget that letter.

After her panic attack and reply, she had later perused the letter while teaching Ginny how to prune butterfly bushes without being swarmed, and had gathered a few more things about Harry. Having been a kid herself once-which her children, especially the twins, seemed to deny-she recognized the covering up of one's friend. It had been Harry's idea to go rescue Hermione. Later letters, which grew steadily more distant as the year progressed, still proved that Harry had not only inherited his parent's bravery, but also a sort of kindness that Mrs. Weasley never failed to notice. She smiled at the thank-you note she received a few days after Christmas and was pleased she had taken the time to knit the boy a sweater and send him the chocolates his own mother would never be able to send, which was why she had sent it in the first place. His own Aunt had obviously made no effort to make Harry feel even comfortable in their home, and so Mrs. Weasley took it upon herself to do what she could for the boy who had lost so much, and she could already tell, didn't deserve it in the slightest.

And then Second Year… Oh, Merlin, Second Year… It was a nightmare. The Christmas incident passed again with a bit of a longer letter, thanks to that summer where they had been further acquainted and Mrs. Weasley's feelings only grew for the boy. He was so different from her boys, and yet similar as well. They all played Quidditch in the backfields, but he was always so quiet and polite and ready to participate in anything around the house. She responded as best she could with warm meals and big smiles, and it was difficult not to like him, once he opened up a little. For instance, he liked to surprise others, but did not like to be surprised himself. This came up earlier in his visit when Mr. Weasley's coworker in the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office stepped out of the fireplace, glowing green with Floo Powder. Harry had jumped to his feet, stepping on Ron's toe and knocking a chair over.

Mrs. Weasley had assured him of the usual things, that it was quite all right, and was anything wrong and almost not expecting an answer as he shakily took his seat again, so it was a surprise of her own when he answered.

"I don't like the color green. Or flashes of light."

She had glanced up curiously. "But your eyes, Harry, they're a wonderful shade of green."

He shook his head, looking at his hands, folded on the table. "My eyes are fine. According to just about everybody, I have my mother's eyes, which is good. I don't like bursts of that color green. I don't know why, I just don't." Then, probably fearing more attention, he had hurriedly accepted the offer of Exploding Snap from Fred and George, but Molly and Arthur had shared a look. It had never occurred to them that Floo Powder Fire was the same color as a certain Killing Curse.

If that hadn't been enough, there he was in June, standing with her two youngest in Dumbledore's office, holding Ginny's hand in one blood-soaked hand, and his wand and a sword in the other. Then he and Ron had recounted just how many rules they had broken together and with Hermione, how many times they had nearly been killed, revealing how fitting it was that they had been Sorted into Gryffindor and just how much Molly Weasley cared about both of them.

Sirius Black had escaped, and by that time, both the Weasley parents were terrified for him. If he had proved anything besides his character and Quidditch playing abilities in the past two years, it had been his talent for trouble. Or rather, his magnetic force field attracting anything dangerous within the entire country. Much to her amusement, he had insisted it wasn't his fault.

"Mrs. Weasley," He had told her in an exasperated tone when she voiced her worries over Christmas. "Do you really think I ask for all the maniacs to come looking for me?"

"Well, no," She had replied, flustered with the laughter of her other children. "But it doesn't seem like they're waiting for an invitation, do they?"

Had it been Fourth Year? There had been the Dementors, the ridicule she knew he faced daily, not to mention everything else that could go wrong, but that had been nothing to Fourth Year. It had started with the World Cup, what had seemed such an innocent adventure, and suddenly Death Eaters were parading everywhere. She wasn't thick enough to believe this was an accident. But she had sent them off to school anyway, only to find that not only had Harry somehow slipped into the tournament and that Ron wasn't being quite as supportive as he could have been. He had come around eventually, while Mrs. Weasley sat at home praying for news of the tournament. She cried when she heard about the dragon. There were still two more tasks to go, but she breathed easier.

And meanwhile, the reports were getting steadily darker and Dumbledore sent an owl to confirm with Molly and Arthur that she they read between the lines in the Prophet. This had been the only confirmation the couple had needed: something was coming. She had never before considered herself religious, but Mrs. Weasley found herself praying throughout most of her waking hours for the emerald eyed boy that had somehow found a way into her heart. She found brief respite from this incessant worrying when she visited for the Third Task and Harry took Bill and her around the grounds. He seemed a little nervous, but there were no dark circles under his eyes and he seemed ready and capable.

There were no words to describe her feelings as he appeared at the front of the maze. For a moment, everyone was cheering. People were yelling, horns were blowing, streamers thrown from the stands to the ground. And then the cheers turned to screams, and finally silence.

No, Harry wasn't dead. He was, however, covered in blood. And Cedric Diggory was. Mrs. Weasley found her wand gripped tightly in her hand, spinning at the sound of an unearthly wail, but it was just the Diggorys, running to their only son. But everyone else was silent.

"He's back! He's back! Voldemort's back!"

No. Molly Weasley shook, and finally, her feet failed. She caught herself on the edge of the stand, frozen as she processed the two boys in the mud, and the truth that had hushed the entire gathering. No one doubted it. One could see from the back row the fear, the pain, the utter conviction in Harry's eyes, and how else would Cedric have died? It had taken a moment, but at that moment there was a rush of panic. No one celebrated now, and in the bustle of screaming, crying students, Harry was whisked away. It wasn't until she met with Dumbledore and finally, finally saw Harry in the hospital wing did she finally hear the whole story. Not from the boy, of course. One look in those broken, weary eyes and her heart swelled. Where was the boy's mother, to pull him tight? Where was his father, to tap him under the chin and promise that it would be all right?

Stifling tears herself, she couldn't help but to hug him close. And she was genuinely surprised when he hugged her back. And then he was slipping away into oblivious sleep, and Dumbledore sat on the opposite bed, stared at Harry's resting form, and recited an abbreviated tale of the night's events to Mrs. Weasley, Bill, Ron and Hermione.

Looking down at him, they had never viewed Harry Potter so differently.

Dumbledore had stood, frowning down at Harry with a very thoughtful expression. Molly had never seen him look so old.

"More courage than the whole of the Ministry." He murmured absently, and then swept away.

Everything had gone downhill from there. Dementor attacks, Death Eaters, daring escapes, raging tempers, accusations, she hardly saw him smile anymore, and he made even Fred and George work hard to achieve even a smirk. Very little hurt her heart more than that-never seeing him smile-except for maybe Percy.

"Arthur?" Molly Weasley asked her husband, watching the train roar away with a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach. "Will they be okay?"

Her husband wrapped an arm around her shoulder. "Hermione will keep them in line." He said quietly. "And Ron will look out for Harry…"

Sirius wruffed by their feet, agreeing.

"Now that the Ministry has invaded," said Molly, "It won't be any easier on him."

"Harry has sense." Mr. Weasley tried to sound upbeat. "He won't go looking for more trouble."

"He had better not." She growled, stalking back toward Tonks and the other Aurors at the entrance to the Muggle world. "And if either he or Ron step a toe out of line one more time, I will kill them myself."

"It's a woman thing." Mr. Weasley murmured to the dog trotting at his side. "The threaten people they love so they don't do anything dangerous."

Sirius made a doglike sound that could have either been a snort or a laugh, though both realized they almost had the inclination to do the same thing. Merlin knows Harry didn't need to create any more trouble for himself or Ron and Hermione… because though he had green eyes and dark hair and a smile that made Sirius die a little inside because of its similarity to James's, it was clear that Harry Potter wasn't quite the orphan he was made out to be. He wasn't anyone's son now, but he certainly was as good as.