Molly woke one morning in the middle of September to find that her beloved Arthur, at more than one hundred years old, was no longer with her. Molly closed her eyes and linked her own bent fingers with his cold ones, feeling two hot tears slip down her cheeks.
Within hours, the whole family was assembled. Bill, Fleur, and Charlie, all of whom were getting on in years themselves, George, Angelina, Percy (already a widower for nearly four years), Ron and Hermione, and last came Harry with Ginny, who had some six years earlier lost her sight.
All of their children were there, as well, and their children. It was then that Molly realized just how long one hundred and seven years of living was. They all occupied the living room together, just taking in what they had lost. It was the most painfully beautiful scene Molly had ever witnessed.
That night, Molly spent her first night by herself in almost ninety years. Tears were far behind her—her grief was immeasurable. Half of her soul, her life, was gone forever. The one person who had been at her side for every stage of life, every loss, every heartbreak, every moment of pure joy. Gone. And Molly felt alone.
She lived out the next few days in a kind of stupor. Ron and Hermione were staying with her—being away from home was very hard on Ginny. Molly ate little and spoke less, no matter how hard Ron and Hermione tried to reach her. They—they did not understand. As much as Molly loved them both, they could not yet understand what she felt.
Several days later, they all laid Arthur to rest in the garden, beside his darling son Fred. Molly, who was not exactly young herself, felt her heart flutter like a little girl's when she saw that more than one hundred people had arrived to bid their farewells.
All of Arthur's boys spoke, including Harry. Ginny, her arm around Harry's waist, spoke last. Her voice was stronger than any of her brothers. Molly did not say anything. She could not. She knew no one would blame her.
At the reception, Molly was given a chair between Ginny and Hermione. She watched in amazement, her hand clutching Ginny's tightly, as one person after the other came to her to kiss her cheek and gently embrace her. Each had something to say about Arthur, the way he managed to touch their life. The line seemed never to end, but Molly did not notice; she was overwhelmed by all the love she felt for these wonderful people.
That night, when Molly sank into her bed, she reached for Arthur's pillow. It still smelled like him. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply. For the first time since the last time she had woken up beside him, Molly began to cry.
"Oh, Arthur," she whispered softly. "Arthur, Arthur…" She sobbed silently into the pillow for several minutes before she finally got a handle on herself. "Arthur, sweetheart, I…I don't know what I'll do without you. I can't remember a time when you weren't with me. I keep waiting for you to walk through the door, or see you tinkering with something out by the shed. I don't want you to be gone, Arthur, I can't let you go…"
And Molly dissolved into more sobs, which, slowly but surely, gave way to a deep sleep, her face resting on Arthur's pillow, inhaling his scent deeply.
It was a surprisingly bright—for September, at least—ray of light that woke her the next morning. She could feel a sharp crick in her neck that had managed to spread down her whole spine. Molly groaned slightly. She couldn't remember the last time she had felt this old.
Very, very stiffly and slowly, Molly began to adjust herself so that she was in a sitting position against her headboard. After a few moments, she was upright. She picked up Arthur's pillow to put behind her back, and as she did so, something fluttered out of its pillowcase into her lap. It was a folded piece of parchment.
Molly stared at it for several long moments, her breath catching. She fumbled quickly for her spectacles and put them on, shaking the parchment open.
I think that when you find this, I will not be with you anymore. Please forgive me; I did not want to leave you. I love you, Mollywobbles. If I am wrong about what I am feeling right now, I will tear this note up when I wake in the morning and see your beautiful face. But, in case I am right, I wanted to let you know how much I love you, and how much you have meant to me for—well, for my entire life.
I've always believed that a person's true worth does not lie in fame or fortune, but in legacy. If we can reach out to others and truly change their lives for the better, as you have helped me to do every single day since I have known you, then we are infinitely better off even than the wealthiest of men. Our family is the most important thing in my world, and you are at the very center of it all. Molly, I don't know what I'll do without you.
I hope I am wrong, but if I am not, you have this note, and all the love I have to give you. Forever.
Kissing you goodnight,
Arthur had written it the night he died—it was so like him to fastidiously attach the date. Molly drew a shuddering breath and leaned back, clasping the note to her breast with both hands. At that moment, there was a soft knock at the door.
"Molly?" asked Hermione's quiet voice. "Are you awake?"
Molly sighed briefly and wiped her face. True worth lies in legacy, she told herself. She cleared her throat and called back.
"I'm here, Hermione dear, come in," said Molly, lifting a gentle smile to her face.
This piece is in loving memory of a man whom we laid to rest today, the longest day of the year, in honor of the bright light he shone upon his family, friends, and even those who only had the great pleasure of knowing him for a short time, as I did. Hail to the Chief, the patriarch of his beloved family, and a man who understood the importance of legacy. I know that someone like you has only the best things waiting for him. Thank you for being the miraculous man that you were.