A/N: the second instalment of Molly and Salazar's sequel. Still all Jenny's.
I owe Lucy – thethymeisright – an awful lot for her help with this second part. Originally it was a rather jumbled mess and had little direction. Thank you, Luce!
And I realise that I completely forgot to thank Anna - Bree-utiful - in the first chapter. She's the one I need to thank for correcting my god-awful grammar and pointing me in the right direction. Thank you Bree!
basilisk love songs
hold on, we're gonna make it if it takes all night
hearts racing like a rocket at the speed of light
- Where We Belong, Thriving Ivory
One morning two weeks later Salazar apparates her to a remote lake somewhere high in the Peak District. Molly is clutching the potion he'd found whilst digging nosily through her work stuff, a brand new recipe that renders basilisk's eyes harmless.
"I don't get why I need this," Molly grumbles, wrapped up in three tops and one of Salazar's thick jumpers, her nose already blocked from a cold and her hair quickly stripped of any semblance of neatness by the wind. "Can't we just go home already?"
"Patience," Salazar says with a laugh, moving to stand behind her and wrap his arms around her waist to block the wind from her. "I think you'll find it's worth it. Just give me the potion."
Molly relinquishes it somewhat reluctantly and then is left slightly surprised as he strides away from her with a sure gait, disappearing into the black mouth of a looming cave.
"Salazar?" she calls when she can no longer see him, shifting from foot to foot with impatience. "What are you doing?"
He reappears after a short time and, returning to stand behind her, turns her gently to face the cave mouth.
"Surprise," he says in her ear, and Molly can't breathe for a second at the sight of what comes out of the cave.
"Oh, Merlin," she says, and then she's flying across the open space and she's flinging her arms around the basilisk's great neck, her fingers scrabbling at its scales as it wriggles in pure bliss, its rough barbed tongue darting out to just catch the back of her head as she buries her face in its neck, pressing herself as close to it as she can get.
It has missed her greatly, it informs her. It's so relieved that it can stay with her now.
She laughs and – for the first time – looks up to see the great yellow eyes staring down at her. She's surprised to find them warm and intelligent-looking, the tenderness in its gaze almost paralysing.
"I missed you," she tells it quietly, and it shows its great fangs in a snaky grin before bending to nudge her back over to Salazar, slinking across the ground behind her.
"I thought…" she begins when she reaches him, her hand sliding into his unconsciously. "I thought it died. I saw the skeleton in the Chamber and I…"
Salazar pulls her close and one of his hands cups the back of her head gently.
"I put a new one in," he explains with a slight smile, his eyes alight with that wicked sparkle she's missed so much. "One without fear or emotion and one that doesn't moan every five minutes that it's missing you."
Molly laughs and detaches herself from him to grin up at the basilisk, looming above them both.
"You complained a lot then?" she says, and the basilisk dips its head to poke her in the back.
It should think that was obvious, it replies dryly, and Molly laughs even louder and then suddenly she hesitates, her face creasing into worry.
"What are we going to do with it?" she asks, turning back to Salazar and wrapping her arms around herself to stave off the cold. "We can't just take it back to my flat."
Salazar steps forward and tucks her against his body, keeping her warm within his embrace. "I thought we could come to live outside London."
She stiffens, and he bends to kiss her to silence her protests before they begin.
"I know it's your home, but… well, you work from home so that wouldn't be a problem and we can apparate in and out whenever we need anything, and we could move somewhere closer to your family."
Molly sighs and presses her face into his chest, heaving out a deep breath.
"I don't know. It's a big deal, moving out of London. I'd miss it a lot."
"We could keep your flat," he promises, rubbing her shoulder gently and lovingly. "And go back to it whenever we like. The basilisk can take care of itself, mostly, so we could maybe spend the week in the city and the weekend in the countryside?"
The basilisk hisses with agreement, and Molly takes a step away from Salazar to find the pair of them gazing at her in such scarily similar beseeching ways that she has to laugh.
"So, we'd just move? Just like that?"
Salazar pulls something out of his coat pocket and hands it over. Molly looks down at the picture of the pretty little cottage, covered in roses and ivy, and when she looks up Salazar is waiting for her response eagerly, like a child.
"You already found a house?" she says, and Salazar can tell something's wrong by the tone of her voice.
"You don't like it?"
"No, it's not that, it's just – why are you so sure that I'll move?"
He watches her warily for a few moments, trying to work out the best way to stave off the argument that seems to be brewing.
"I didn't know," he decides eventually, taking a step towards her and reaching out a hand to her. "I hoped. If you don't want to… that's fine. We can stay in London, just visit the basilisk when we've got time."
Molly divides her gaze thoughtfully between the pair of them, but she doesn't want to argue any more than Salazar does so she just smiles and throws herself into his arms.
"Okay," she capitulates finally, starting to hop up and down to try to stave off the cold. "Let's do it."
They find the pretty little cottage in a valley far enough from her family for Molly to be comfortable with it, and they're moved in within the month. Molly's clutter spills through three rooms, and Salazar can't help laughing as they pick their way amongst boxes and boxes of… well, stuff. There's no other word for it.
"Do you think you've got enough boxes?" he inquires as they clamber past each other while on a mission to get the place straight.
"It's actually a cleverly designed plan to keep you fit," Molly teases, grinning over at him, her ponytail catching the light with little shimmers of copper. "You don't even have to go for a run to get exercise, you just have to try to get from the sitting room to the kitchen."
Salazar laughs and hefts an empty box into his arms, tossing it out through the window. He hears a dull thud and laughs ever louder as the basilisk makes an odd squawk of shock and disgust.
It would prefer it if he could refrain from battering it with cardboard, it lets him know, and Salazar tries to smother laughter as he reminds it that it's supposed to be on box-stacking duty.
By the end of the day things are looking a little more ordered, and they've managed to clear a path about a foot wide between the kitchen, sitting room, stairs, bedroom and bathroom.
They collapse onto the sofa together, the basilisk out to explore the countryside, and Molly flicks the television on as she snuggles down into Salazar's side.
"We ought to have a house-warming party," she says, and she's got that only half-awake tone that Salazar knows means she probably doesn't realise she's thinking aloud. "And introduce you to my family."
"I met some of them already," he reminds her, and she turns her head to grin lazily up at him.
"Only a tiny portion," she warns him, swinging her legs over his lap to get closer and more comfortable. "But at least it was the slightly crazier portion. This way the rest of them will hopefully seem a little normal by comparison."
"I doubt it," he says with a laugh, and captures her fingers deftly in his own. "When shall we have it?"
"Not for a few weeks," she decides, her brow creasing slightly. "We need to get this place straight first."
He bends down and kisses away the lines on her forehead, smoothing away her worry and watching the pretty stars in her eyes as she gazes up at him.
"We could just use magic," he points out, and Molly glares up at him.
"You know we had this argument already. I don't want to use magic – it will only feel like home if I've got everything straight myself."
"Ourselves," Salazar corrects with a smile, his fingers rising this time to level out her forehead. "Seeing as how you're making me do half the work and all."
"You volunteered," Molly counters, trying to hold back laughter, and then she gives up and they both dissolve helplessly.
They have the party just over three months later, and when the family start to traipse in they wouldn't have believed that just an hour previously Molly and Salazar had been arguing over something petty so fiercely that Salazar had stormed out in a massive huff.
But now they've made up and they stand side-by-side to greet the various cousins that traipse in, Molly cooing over babies as Salazar charms the women and the men in equal measure, the pair of them blazing next to each other.
"You two look wonderful together," Audrey comments, misty-eyed, and Molly flushes and points her mother over to the table of food before busying herself by picking up the little blonde-haired child crawling around her feet.
Salazar can't help a slight smile as the baby gurgles merrily up at them both, brown eyes wide and mirthful in its pretty round face.
"Oh, thank Merlin," Rose exclaims, rushing up to grab the baby off Molly. "There you are, Alfie! That's the last time I leave Daddy in charge of you."
Salazar wraps his arm around Molly's waist as she smiles and chucks the baby briefly under his chin before giving her cousin a quick hug.
"He looks more and more like Scorpius every time I see him," she comments, and at this Rose positively beams and disappears off into the crowd looking mightily pleased.
"How long before we can kick them out?" Salazar murmurs in her ear as she watches Lucy and Lorcan enter with their young daughter. "I haven't properly shown you how sorry I am yet."
She giggles and bats him away, flushing slightly around the ears.
"Don't be inappropriate when there're children about," she hisses, keeping her smile firmly in place as Lucy barrels determinedly over to them. Just before it's too late, Molly whips around and darts up to press a lingering kiss against his cheek. "Hold that thought, though."
"Ugh, get a room," Lucy complains as she arrives, dumping baby Aine into Salazar's arms so she can seize Molly into a tight hug.
Molly grins over her shoulder at Salazar, who's looking terrified at having his arms so suddenly full of small child, shifting Aine around until he's got her secure, glancing up at her for help.
"Your boyfriend is dreadful with children," Lucy announces, releasing Molly and eying Salazar mistrustfully. He shrugs ruefully and gratefully relinquishes Aine to Lorcan when the other man comes to take her back.
"I have never pretended to be anything else," Salazar replies once he is safely divested of the baby, watching with something that might possibly be envy as Lorcan easily shifts Aine into one arm so he can hug Molly with the other, the little girl clinging onto her father with total trust.
"Jealous?" Lucy inquires, watching Salazar with narrowed eyes. Salazar levels an equally suspicious gaze back at her, and Molly has to laugh.
"Not of the baby, having you for a mother," Salazar retorts, and Molly and Lorcan both bite back laughter as Lucy huffs and whirls to storm off. Lorcan grins at Molly and Salazar and then follows his wife back into the crowd.
"Are you really jealous?" Molly asks while they have a couple of moments to themselves, taking a swig out of a glass of firewhiskey. "Of Lucy and Lorcan, I mean. For having a baby."
"Not particularly," he replies, pressing a kiss against her fiery curls. "Any child of theirs will be a nightmare. But… I think I should like to have a baby that's half yours and half mine."
She turns to gaze up at him, unsure how sincere he's being, but he's smiling in a deadly honest fashion and so she sighs and turns away.
"I don't think we're ready," she says, and her tone has him surprisingly riled up for a second, his hand going to his wand.
"And you're sure about that?" he inquires, and she glances up at him with narrowed eyes, obviously sensing his sudden change of temper.
"Come on, Salazar," she says, keeping her voice low so that their argument won't be overheard by any of the family on the premises. "I'm still working and you've only been in this time for a few months. Do you really think we'll make good parents?"
"I think one of the signs of being ready for a baby is not feeling ready," he points out, his voice low and dangerous in her ear. For the first time, Molly recognises what it is about this man that has people so afraid. With a sigh, she tugs him into the utility room and shuts the door, the washing machine churning and covering up all sounds of their conversation.
"So you want a baby now?" she enquires, her tone just as angry as his, her arms folded as she leans against the machine and glares at him. "Just like that?"
"Not right now," he replies, leaning back against the door, meeting her angry gaze unyieldingly. "But I think we should try."
"Well you know what," Molly bursts out, and suddenly she's almost shouting and she's not entirely sure why, "You don't get to make all the decisions around here, alright? You just drop into my life after six years – six years, Salazar – and you expect me to be ready and waiting here for you, willing to drop anything to do what you say! I gave up my home for you, I left the city, I moved to the middle of nowhere, I avoided my family for near-on ten months – and now I'm just supposed to lie down and have your baby?"
"I asked you to move!" he yells back, running a hand through his dark hair in exasperation, starting to pace. "You could have said no! You had a choice!"
"I never had a choice," she hisses, and now she's shoving past him and heading for the door. "Since I fell through that portal, I've never had a choice."
He catches her arm, and she freezes in place. They stay like that for a short while, neither of them saying a thing, and then wordlessly Salazar releases her.
"I'm sorry then," he murmurs, refusing to meet her gaze, his eyes turned firmly towards the wall. "I'm sorry for coming into your life. I'm sorry for falling in love with you. I'm sorry for wanting to have a child with you."
"Don't you dare," she cries threateningly, "Don't you dare turn this around onto me!"
And then she's wrenching open the door and rejoining the party, wiping the tearstains off her cheeks
It takes them three days to make up – their longest argument to date. Eventually neither can bear it, and Salazar appears in the kitchen with a massive bunch of flowers just as Molly's wrapping herself up in a scarf to come to find him.
"I'm sorry," he says, standing a trifle nervously in the doorway, holding the flowers between them as though a shield. "I shouldn't have pushed you to have a baby. If you don't want to, that's fine."
"I'm sorry too," she replies, beginning to unwrap the scarf to give her hands something to do. "I overreacted. You didn't mean to push me. You didn't mean to do any of those things."
Then she's smiling and he grins and moves across the room, tossing the flowers to one side and wandlessly magicking them into a vase. Their lips meet, hard and bruising and desperate.
"Let's never fight again," Molly whispers, her fingers clamped onto the back of his jacket. "Never ever again."
"You said that last time, too," he points out, grinning, and Molly frowns playfully up at him.
"Hush, you," she commands, and then she kisses him again and he forgets everything else.
She finds out she's pregnant four months later, and in a whirlwind of crazed blue eyes and flying red curls she barrels out into the garden where he's playing absently with the basilisk and throws herself on him.
"You…bloody…arsehole!" she shrieks in between punches, knocking him to the ground and landing on top of him, pummelling every spare inch of him she can reach. "You… promised!"
He gives a strange gasp, sort of strangled sounding, and manages to capture her wrists.
"Calm down!" he shouts at her as she wriggles ferociously, trying to bite his fingers. Deftly, he rolls over so that she's trapped beneath him, pinning her wrists above her head with one hand. "Tell me what this is about."
"I'm pregnant, you dickhead!" she grinds out, panting as she tries to twist out of his grasp. "And you promised me, no babies until we're ready. You promised!"
"Sometimes these things happen," he says, trying to control the wave of delight that is rising inside him, because he knows that she'll probably kill him if he lets it show. "Sorry I broke my promise."
"Don't you dare – no, stop it, don't kiss me –"
He grins against her mouth as he kisses her slowly and languorously, her body halting its desperate attempts to free itself, instead pressing up against him on autopilot.
"Cheater," she gasps when he releases her, and he just laughs and then he's leaping to his feet and yanking her up into his arms.
"We're going to have a baby!" he crows, spinning her around again and again. "I'm going to be a dad!"
"Steady on," she says, trying to pretend she's not giggling, wriggling to get out of his grasp. "You'll hurt the damn baby."
"I can't believe it," he exclaims hoarsely, and Molly feels a spike of love for him despite everything as he turns to her with what look like suspiciously glistening eyes. "I can't believe it. We're going to be parents."
"Oh, gee, I think you need to be more enthusiastic about it," she retorts sarcastically, and then he's laughing and pulling out his wand and yanking her into the blackness along with him.
She recognises Lucy and Lorcan's house, and can't help laughing to herself as Salazar barrels up the path, banging on their front door.
"I don't think they're going to care," she informs him as they wait by the door, her hand wrapped firmly in his.
"That's irrelevant," he replies, and when Lorcan opens the door with Lucy right behind him, baby Aine in her arms, he bounds forward and seizes them both into a hug.
"Molly's pregnant!" he announces breathlessly, and Molly covers her face in affectionate embarrassment as he proceeds to act more and more like a child.
"Congratulations!" Lucy exclaims, dumping her daughter into Lorcan's arms and rushing to embrace her sister. "That's great!"
Molly stands and looks at all three of them, equally excited looks on all their faces, and blushes.
"Yeah, well, whatever," she replies self-consciously, and Salazar laughs and returns to her side.
"We're going to tell everyone," he announces proudly, and Molly doesn't even have time to get out a groan of dismay before he's apparating them somewhere else.
That afternoon, once they've visited Molly parents, Roxanne, Dominique, and Lily and Teddy, Salazar finally lets them return home and they collapse into the sofas in the sitting room, Salazar exhausted from all the excitement and Molly from the embarrassment.
"You're a dick," she tells him, and he just beams and holds out his arm for her to nestle against his side.
"We're going to be parents," he whispers, and she smiles and leans her head back onto his chest.
The first few months of her pregnancy go well, and Salazar starts to become accustomed to her wild mood swings – usually accompanied by shattering ornaments – and her odd cravings that have him awake in the middle of the night to get her sardine and peanut butter sandwiches or gillywater mixed with pumpkin juice.
Her family drop round with food and Molly laughs and protests that they'll never get through all of this as Salazar smiles over at her, loving the way she glows, and continues to rearrange the freezer to try to get everything inside it.
They have the idyll, in their house in the countryside with the basilisk in the back garden and the pretty ivy trailing all over the walls and the sunshine of Spring.
Salazar decides to go to London one weekend to try to find a job – more out of curiosity than anything else, but as Molly will have her time entirely consumed by their child in just over three months he wants to make sure that she doesn't need to worry about money.
He leaves her sleeping, her hair a blaze of flames with the sunlight streaming in through the half-open curtains. He presses a kiss to her temple and then sneaks out as quietly as possible, although there's almost no point – she sleeps more deeply than the dead.
"Watch out for her," he orders the basilisk as he walks out into the garden to apparate, munching on an apple. "Don't let her overexert herself."
The basilisk stirs sleepily and pokes at him with its snout. He laughs and tosses the apple core at it, marvelling that it still hasn't been seen by somebody in the vicinity, and then apparates to the centre of London.
He spends the day engaged in countless interviews, telling them his surname is Tudor and trying not to laugh as they pretend not to be curious over the fact that he's "named after" the first Slytherin.
He strolls back to Molly's flat, the one they've still kept even after all these months, and crashes out on the sofa in front of the television. It's probably among his top five favourite things of these new times, along with microwaves and leather jackets and chocolate.
He finds himself falling asleep in front of some show with lots of singing in it, and so he drags himself through into the bedroom to curl up on that bed they never bothered to unmake in case they wanted to come spend some time in the city. He has decided not to apparate home on the basis that it does Molly good to be independent, to not have someone there reminding her not to do too much.
He is awakened some time around three in the morning by a terrified slamming against his mental wall by the basilisk.
Molly's hurting, it tells him in a hiss filled with pure fear, and a mental picture fills his head of Molly writhing in the first-floor bedroom, her face streaked with tears and her skin glistening with sweat.
He apparates straight out of the bedroom into the garden and sprints through the house into the bedroom.
Molly gives a cry of relief when she sees him, her face twisted with pain, and her arms reach out to him as another convulsion of pain overcomes her.
"What is it?" he gasps, hastening to her side and gathering her up into his arms, her body spilling into his lap as he cradles her, smoothing her damp hair off her face.
"The… baby…" she pants out, giving another cry, and Salazar looks up to meet the basilisk's great eye staring in through the window.
"What do I do?" he begs of it, and he can feel tears forming in his eyes even as he's trying to remember that he's Salazar Slytherin and he doesn't do things so mundane as crying. "What do I do?"
The basilisk sends a succession of mental pictures – first Audrey, Molly's mother; and then Victoire and Roxanne, the Healer cousins.
"Watch her," Salazar chokes out, and then he's apparating right out of the room, the wards on the place not even slightly holding him back, and straight onto the front doorstep of Molly's parents' house.
"Help!" he yells, banging furiously on the door. "You've got to help!"
Percy appears in the doorway, glasses askew, his hair rumpled with sleep.
"Oh, Merlin," he says grumpily, not appearing to recognise the desperation that is written all over his almost-son-in-law. "What do you want?"
"It's Molly," Salazar grinds out, struggling for breath. "I think she's losing the baby."
Audrey sprints into the hallway, already dressed, and pushes straight past her husband.
"Take me," she says, and the Muggle woman's hair is wild around her face. "Take me to her!"
Salazar seizes her hand tightly and, even as he's turning to apparate, he pauses and turns to Percy.
"Get Roxanne and Victoire," he says, and there is such authority in his tone that Percy seems to almost snap to attention. "Send them to us."
And then he's feeling his way into blackness, dragging Audrey along behind him and appearing right next to the bed upon which Molly is thrashing in pain. Her eyes, when they snap open, are almost too far gone to recognise him.
"Salazar," she murmurs, breathless in the stifling air of the bedroom. "I'm scared."
He's at her side instantly, Audrey taking her hand as he climbs up on the bed next to her.
"It's okay, Molls," he whispers, mentally telling the basilisk to get the hell away before any more family members show up. "I'm here. You're going to be okay."
She mutters about the pain and turns her face into his shoulder, dragging in oxygen through clenched teeth and squeezing both his hand and her mother's as she tries to breathe through the pain.
Wordlessly, Audrey reaches across her daughter and takes Salazar's free hand in her own, meeting his eyes with stolid calm that lets him know that she knows how much he's freaking out inside.
"She'll be okay," Audrey promises as they both hear the muffled pop of two people apparating, and then thudding footsteps up the stairs.
The minute Roxanne and Victoire arrive they banish Audrey and Salazar out into the hallway, and the minute the pair are out the door is silenced and all Salazar can hear are Audrey's shaky breaths and his own mental clamour.
The basilisk presses against his mind firmly. It wants to know what's going on. Salazar sends it only the emotions running amok inside him, and it withdraws with a wave of sadness.
Salazar runs a desperate hand through his hair, and then turns to find Audrey sitting on the floor with her head in between her knees, trying to take deep breaths.
"Hey," he says, hastening towards her. Something about seeing her like this, so helpless, makes it easier for him to push his own emotions down, to lock them away with that clinical detachment he'd perfected before he fell in love with Molly, before he came to this time and was able to stop worrying about Hogwarts and the future and a million other things that were just too much to deal with.
"It'll be okay," he whispers to her, sliding down the wall next to her and letting her press her face into his shoulder, soaking his dark shirt with tears. "She'll be okay."
Audrey doesn't say a word, and they stay like that for what feels like a lifetime.
When Roxanne finally opens the door, Salazar leaps to his feet as though he's been electrocuted and hurries straight into the room, pushing past her and ignoring her attempts to stop him.
Victoire is sitting on the side of the bed, her pretty blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail, her face tired and lined with sadness, one hand resting on Molly's flushed brow.
"Is she –" he manages to choke out, not even noticing Roxanne's reassuring hand on his arm. "Is she okay?"
"She'll be fine by the morning," Victoire replies, getting to her feet in one graceful movement, walking around the bed and placing a hand on his chest to get his attention. "But, Salazar, she lost the baby."
Her gaze, when it meets his, is blue-eyed and clear. She's sympathetic, and she's sorry, but she's not going to baby him. This passes between them in the briefest of seconds, and then she steps out of his way and he hurries to Molly's side.
He clambers onto the bed next to her, gathering her up into his arms as she stirs sleepily, Roxanne and Victoire retreating and leaving the two alone.
"I'm sorry," she whispers in a terribly weak voice. "I'm so, so sorry."
"Don't be ridiculous," he retorts, hearing the muffled pop of the three other women apparating away. "You're okay. That's all I need."
"But our baby, Salazar," she says, and suddenly she's got her face buried in his shoulder and she's not crying, not really – it's more of a whimper; a desperate, animalistic sound that he never wants to hear again in his life if he can help it.
"Oh, God, Molly," he murmurs, and he folds her as tightly into him as he can get her, his face pressed against her hair as he rocks her gently, backwards and forwards.
She's recovered physically by the next morning, thanks to the potions that Victoire and Roxanne plied her with, but it takes another couple of months for her to recover fully.
Salazar has retreated into himself, wandering the countryside alone for hours, not knowing what to do with himself while Molly simply sits and stares into space, her fingers working circles on her newly-flat stomach.
Lily finds him one day by the river, one hand resting on a tree trunk, his eyes following the water with detachment.
"Alright," she says, startling him into whirling around. He encounters her standing there, her arms folded, green eyes blazing with fury. "It's time you got a grip on the situation. I'm sick of watching you two wander around like your world's ended."
"You don't understand," he retorts shortly, turning back to the water. "You've never lost a child."
She's at his throat with a wand less than ten seconds later, and Salazar finds his emotions roused enough to be impressed as she glares at him, her hair almost crackling with her anger and her knuckles white around the handle of her wand.
"You think I don't understand?" she hisses, and Salazar recognises – impossibly – something of himself in this untameable girl with the flyaway red curls and the ferociously short temper. "I spent seventeen years of my life being in love with somebody else! Somebody else who had a girlfriend. A nice girlfriend – a kind girlfriend. A girlfriend who was my cousin. And when he chose me – finally chose me – it broke her heart. And every single day I have to face up to the fact that I've ruined my cousin's life. So don't tell me that I don't understand. I know what it's like to feel worthless – to feel as though nothing is worth it."
Salazar realises with a start that he can see tears rising in her eyes, see her chest heaving with anger and passion, and he suddenly suspects that this is the first time she's told anybody this; the first time she's confided her feelings in anyone.
"Then what do I do, if you're such an expert on this sort of thing?" he inquires, challenging her, drawing her out of her sudden preoccupation, giving her a chance to regather herself.
She digs her wand in afresh, and he's reminded so much of himself that she could be his sister.
"Marry her," Lily commands, and Salazar does a double-take. He wasn't expecting that, of all things.
"Marry her. Show her you love her anyway. Distract her. Just do it."
She sounds exasperated now, her wand falling away from his throat, her breathing somewhat restored. She takes a step away, wipes her cheeks with the back of one hand, smoothes down her jeans.
"Save her from herself, Salazar," she orders, and her expression is awfully weary for someone so young. "She's such a drama queen, it'll kill her if you let it."
"I thought Roxanne was supposed to be the one with all the advice?" he inquires, his tone more teasing than irritated this time around. He's rewarded with a slight smile, a barely perceptible curl of the lips.
"Us Slytherins have to look out for each other," she says, and then she's disapparating with a pop and leaving him to his own devices.
He sighs and returns home, crunching his way across the falling leaves and pausing in the back garden to look up at the house. The basilisk is stretched out, dozing in the autumn sun, its head crushing Molly's prized hyacinths as it chews absently on the trunk of the old apple tree, one eye open and keeping watch over Molly as she sits in the kitchen, gazing at nothing.
That Lily girl came by, the basilisk informs him, its other eye sliding open to look at him. It was told to tell him to get on with it.
"She spoke to you?" Salazar inquires in shock, not even having the energy to be annoyed that one of Molly's family has finally discovered the great snake.
Oh, yes, she's a parseltongue, the basilisk announces casually, yawning and almost bowling him backwards. With a groan of disgust, Salazar casts a breath-freshening spell on it and then focuses on the more pressing matter.
"She's a parselmouth?"
The basilisk gives him a toothy grin, its tail flicking lazily in the pond down the hill. He can tell that it's enjoying his surprise.
Obviously, it replies, and Salazar sort of wants to hit it. He takes a deep breath to calm himself down and turns to the matters at hand more pressing.
"Wish me luck," he tells the basilisk, and then he pushes open the back door and goes to find Molly in the kitchen.
She's on the window seat, gazing out at the setting sun, the dirty crockery from her lunch still sitting on the table behind her.
"Molls," he says, and she turns to look at him with little interest. He sighs and crosses the room, sitting behind her and pulling her up into his embrace.
"I was just starting to look forward to it," she informs him quietly, her fingers tracing circles on his hands where they're clasped over her stomach. "Having a baby, I mean. I was thinking about names."
Salazar clutches her tighter, his head dropping down to the juncture of her neck and shoulder, breathing in that sweet Molly scent that can always calm him down.
"I'm sorry," he whispers, pressing a kiss to her skin gently. "I shouldn't have pushed you into it. It's my fault."
"No, it's nobody's fault," she replies calmly, turning to look out of the window again. "These things happen."
Salazar wants to rage and scream that this isn't her, that his Molly doesn't just accept things like this. She fights them and she fixes them – she never gives in to them.
He supposes that now's as good a time as ever, but he doesn't have a ring and he doesn't feel like going down on one knee because the floor's a little dirty so instead he just pulls her around to face him on the windowseat.
"Will you marry me, Molly?" he asks, and for the first time in five weeks something sparks in her eyes.
"Marry me," he says, capturing her face between his hands, suddenly almost feverish. "Marry me, please. I love you. I want you to know that. I love you no matter what."
"No, Salazar!" she says, and now she's fighting to get away. "Don't ask me that! If I marry you there'll be more children and I can't let this happen again!"
She's almost crying now and he's on his feet, ready to go to her, but she holds out a hand to stop him.
"Don't ask me that," she orders, and Salazar thinks that this might hurt a lot less if she was begging or something. "Don't ask me to marry you. I can't."
Without a word, he turns and disapparates on the spot.
He finds himself in her old apartment, and collapsing onto the sofa he files away all these impossible-to-deal-with emotions and switches them off. It's remarkably easy, even after all this time of no practice.
Sighing, he sheds his coat. Feeling nothing, he switches on the television, and he's most definitely not crying as he brushes a hand across his eyes irritably. Because Molly isn't his world, she's not, she's just a girl and no girl can make him weak like this.
He's Salazar Slytherin, for crying out loud.
A letter arrives a few days later informing him that he's got one of the jobs he interviewed for all those weeks ago, and so he suits up and heads out. He settles into an easy (boring) pattern, rising early to go to work and staying late at the office until he's just a robot on autopilot, making his own dinner and being too aloof at work to make friends and absolutely not missing Molly so desperately it's like his heart will break.
Time stops meaning very much, so he doesn't know how long it's been since he left when the knock on the front door comes.
He can't deny the hope he feels as he hurries to get the door, yanking it open hurriedly. He's astonished to find two women standing in front of him that he though he'd never see in the same room together, let alone standing next to each other in his doorway.
"Hi," he says, slipping easily into that practised veneer of pretending he's been steadily perfecting throughout his life. "Can I help you two ladies?"
"Can it, Salazar," Lily orders, sweeping past him, Victoire close behind her. "We're here to talk sense into you."
"Or beat it into you," Victoire adds, twirling her rosewood wand between thin fingers. "We're not above that, either."
"Have a seat," he says, a trifle nervously – not that he'd ever show it, of course. The two cousins sit down next to each other, and he sits in the armchair opposite them. The two parties study each other briefly, and as Salazar takes in the two girls across from him – one all firefirefire and the other soothing like water – he wonders what on Earth has possessed them that they're willing to be together.
"So what's the deal with this?" he inquires eventually, tiring of the silence.
"This?" they both repeat at the same time, exchanging a look with each other.
"Yeah, this," Salazar replies, gesturing at them. "You two. Getting along. Teaming up."
They glance at each other again, and then wordlessly join hands.
"We decided it was about time we quit fighting," Lily says, her ponytail catching the light with glimmers of copper, reminding Salazar painfully of Molly. "I apologised for being such a massive bitch and for taking Teddy away. I was selfish and –"
"She was very Slytherin," Victoire butts in with a slight laugh, wrapping an affectionate arm around Lily's shoulders. "And I apologised for overreacting about it all. It's actually turned out for the best, I've got a new boyfriend now."
"Oh?" Salazar says – more to keep them talking than because he's actually interested.
"He's a Muggle," Lily chips in mischievously. "Even after everything she said about dating a Muggle, she's actually with one now!"
"Shut up, you," Victoire retorts, removing her arm and giving Lily a playful shove. "You know how lovely he is."
Lily smiles and turns her attention back to Salazar suddenly. "Actually, it's Matthew that forced us to see sense. He yelled at us both, said it was about time we quit fighting with each other and worked to fix up you and Molly."
"Fix us?" Salazar repeats, slightly shocked, and Victoire and Lily nod.
"Yes," Victoire says firmly, tapping her wand absently against her jean-clad thigh. "We've been to talk to her already. We're doing it together because… well, we figured that it would be a good way to show you that you can get through this."
"Through what?" Salazar asks, now utterly bewildered, his gaze jumping between the pair of them.
"She means," Lily interrupts, pushing some loose hair irritably out of her eyes, "She means that if we can put our differences aside and make up, then you and Molly bloody well can too."
"Ah, I see," Salazar says, things finally clicking. "So you're doing that 'lead by example' thing, yeah?"
"Yes," they say at the same time, and Lily adds, "So get off your lazy arse and go make up with her – it's weird having you two apart. It's like everything's out of balance."
Salazar sighs and drops his head into his hand. Infuriatingly, he can see the sense in their arguments – and Slytherins have always been logical.
"Go on, Salazar," Victoire says gently, and he glances up to find them both gazing at him sympathetically. "No matter what she pretends, she needs you."
They crack scarily similar grins at him, and Lily says, "We know."
"Okay," he says, and suddenly he's leaping into action, snatching his coat up and pulling out his wand. "Okay, I can do this."
"Go!" Victoire and Lily command, getting up and shoving him jointly out of the door. "Get on with it!"
Salazar grins and disapparates off the doorstep.
He finds Molly in the back garden, propped up against the basilisk's side, obviously waiting for him.
The second he appears she's leaping to her feet and throwing herself at him, covering his face in kisses and looping her arms so tightly around his neck he can barely breathe.
"I'm sorry," she gasps out between kisses and tears, "I didn't mean it, of course I'll marry you. I'll marry you right now if you me to. I was stupid and I was childish and I'm so sorry."
"I'm sorry," he tells her firmly, wrapping his arms around her waist and burying his face in her loose hair, trying vainly to pretend that he doesn't want to cry. "I shouldn't have pushed you and I shouldn't have run away like that. I was a coward."
"You were a Slytherin," she replies, laughing through her tears and then claiming him hungrily and breathlessly in a kiss, her hands fisting in his hair and his clutching at her back as they stumble back into the house and onto the sofa in the sitting room, breathing heavy and hands desperate.
Later, they lie intertwined on the couch, her hair very bright against the dark green cushions, and he slides the pretty diamond ring onto her finger that he's been carrying around in his pocket for weeks.
"We'll have a hundred children," she says with a giggle, admiring the way the diamond catches the light and throws cascades of rainbows around the room. "And they'll grow up all big and strong and we'll get each one its own basilisk and we'll be a massive family and –"
"Let's start with a wedding, yeah?" he says, laughing, pulling her up to rest on his chest. "And then maybe one baby. After that we'll see."
"We'll see," she repeats, and then she lets her head flop down over his heart and links her fingers with his, already making plans in her head for bridesmaids and dresses and food.
They'll argue about this a lot, of course, but there is one thing they can agree on – Victoire and Lily will be joint maids of honour. They'll ignore anybody who tells them there can only be one maid of honour, because they owe both of them equally and besides they've never really been ones for playing by the rules anyhow.
A/N: thank you so much for all the reviews everyone - and again, please don't favourite without reviewing!