2. Harry Who? (August 1992)
Arthur was sitting up in bed, waiting for me. Often, by the time I'd finished in the bathroom, he'd be lying on his side half asleep. It was unusual for him to be sitting waiting for me, and as he'd been working the previous night and he hadn't slept for over thirty-six hours, it was more than unusual, it was unheard of. After such a long night, he should have been snoring by the time I crept into our bedroom, but not that night.
His eyes were wide and his face was anxious and urgent. The questions began the moment I closed our bedroom door. I hadn't even had time to hang up my dressing gown when he started.
'What in Merlin's name is the matter with Ginny?'
'Harry,' I told him.
'Harry?' said Arthur. 'Harry Who? You can't mean Ron's friend, Harry Potter?' There was an edge of surprise in his voice. He was wondering whether he'd misjudged Harry Potter; I decided to let him worry.
'There are no other Harrys in the house, Arthur,' I reminded him with a smile.
'I know that, Molly,' he said. 'But that's not what I meant, you know it isn't.'
I nodded, but said nothing.
'She's clumsy, she's nervous, she's quiet,' he said. 'She isn't behaving at all like Ginny! Are you sure that she isn't ill?'
I nodded again. 'Certain,' I said as I climbed into bed alongside my husband.
Arthur slid down the bed and threw his right arm across my pillow. I rolled onto my side, put my head on his shoulder, slid my arm across his chest, and curled my leg over his. He brought his right arm down, placed his hand on my hip, and squeezed it gently. His left hand moved across to my knee. It was our "bedtime discussions" position, and it was as comfortable and familiar to both of us as our marriage. Arthur's face was only inches from my eyes. His chin was covered in the fine stubble of almost two days of beard growth. I watched his jaw tense and his lips twitch as he thought.
'When the boys were de-gnoming the garden, she simply stood at the window and watched. When I asked if she wanted to go out and join them, she shook her head and ran upstairs to her room. What has Ron's friend done to her?' Arthur demanded.
'Nothing, Arthur,' I assured him. 'Harry isn't at fault. If you want to blame someone for Ginny's behaviour, perhaps you should blame me.'
'I'm sure that it isn't your fault, either, Molly,' he told me staunchly.
'I'm very much afraid that it is,' I said, sighing.
'How?' he asked. 'What is the matter with her?'
'Remember when Ginny was six, when my mum died?'
'Of course I remember,' he told me. His hand gently squeezed my kne and he turned his head to pland a bristly kiss on my temple.
We lay in silence, remembering. Grandma Prewett had spoiled Ginny; she had showered her only granddaughter with presents. My mother's favouritism had been blatantly obvious, making the boys jealous. She had visited us regularly and had told Ginny stories about the family. My mother had fussed over Ginny, and her sudden death had come as a shock to us all.
'Ginny cried for days after her Grandma died,' I reminded Arthur. 'And then the twins started making fun of her, so she stopped. Since then, she hardly ever cries, you know that. She bottles it up and pretends that she's okay. But sometimes, she isn't.'
'She was six, and she was confused and worried. Her Grandma had died and she was thinking about death. Ginny was always asking questions, you know that. She was always asking the difficult questions. Almost as soon as she could talk, it was questions. Why is the sky blue? Why are girls different from boys? Things like that. When Mum died, it was: where had Grandma gone, and what happens when we die? I told her, as best I could, you must remember. You know how she was, how she still is.'
'Yes.' Arthur nodded, and I could see the guilt on his face. 'I know what you told me, Molly. But I didn't see much of it. I missed so much,' he sighed.
'We needed the money,' I reminded him. 'We still do, Arthur.' I kissed him on the cheek. He smiled and again squeezed my hip.
'Sorry about the car,' he said. 'I suppose I should have considered the twins. It was a huge temptation for them. If I hadn't enchanted it they wouldn't have taken it…'
'But Harry would still be here,' I said. 'I'd have gone for him myself. There's something odd going on, Arthur. Harry wasn't replying to Ron's letters, and according to Ron, he wasn't replying to the Granger girl, either. Ron was beginning to worry about his friend, and so was I. Those Muggles don't treat him well, I'm sure of it. Besides, I rather hoped that when he arrived, Ginny would see him as an ordinary little boy, but she doesn't.'
'As I was saying, I'd managed to answer her questions, and then Ginny asked the hardest question of all. What would happen to her if iwe/i died? I really didn't know what to say, I couldn't tell her the truth, that some of my relatives, and a few of yours, might take one, or two of them in, but that they would be split up, that no one would take all seven. So I waffled a bit, and tried to change the subject. But…'
Arthur chuckled, and I hugged him, simply because he knew what I was going to say next.
'Exactly, Ginny wouldn't let me get away with that. She wouldn't let me change the subject. However, I'd been clearing out Mum's house, and I had found a huge pile of newspaper cuttings and magazines. They all dated back to the year Ginny was born. Mum had … she'd started collecting them when Fabian and Gideon were killed, and that was only weeks before You-Know-Who vanished... I was teaching Ginny to read, remember, and she wanted to know about death.'
I watched my husband think. As I expected, he came up with the correct answer without any prompting. He held me tightly, and spoke softly and tenderly.
'And not long after your brothers were killed, every paper and magazine was full of stories about a one-year-old whose parents had been murdered,' said Arthur.
'Yes, so I used Harry Potter as an example. I told her what the papers said, and I used some of the articles to help to teach her to read. I let her read the speculation about what might happen to little Harry Potter. She read about what had happened, and how he was now being cared for by relatives. You can guess what she said.'
'Anyone but Aunt Muriel,' said Arthur promptly.
I chuckled, and kissed his chin.
'She practiced her reading skills with those articles, Arthur. It was free, new, reading material for a little girl who had already read every book we had in the house. I really didn't give it much thought at the time, but she got interested in the story, and she read everything she could find about him. The boy is almost a myth to her. She knows a lot more about Harry Potter than Ron does, in fact, she probably knows more about Harry Potter than Harry Potter does. And now he's here. For her it's like…' I struggled for a comparison. 'It's like having someone famous—like Celestina Warbeck coming to stay with us! She's on edge all of the time.'
'What are we going to do?' Arthur asked me.
'I don't know, Arthur,' I admitted. 'We can only hope that, eventually, she will see that he's only another ordinary little boy, just one of Ron's friends, nothing more.'
'What do you think of the lad, Molly?' he asked. 'He struck me as being polite, and rather quiet.'
'I think that we've overwhelmed him,' I said. 'He's not used to a magical house, to a family like ours.'
'No one is used to a family like ours,' said Arthur proudly.
'True!' I hugged him.
'Ron and Harry seem to be very close,' said Arthur. 'And there's the mysterious Granger girl too. You know, I'm certain that the Headmaster didn't tell us everything that happened at the end of term. The twins claim that Harry defeated Voldemort, again! And he's only twelve. Unfortunately, that won't help Ginny at all, will it? What can we do for her?'
'I really don't know, Arthur,' I said. 'I've done my best to make Harry welcome. I hope that, if he stays here often enough, this silly hero-worship will wear off.'
'And if it doesn't?'
'I don't know, Arthur, I really don't know.'
'Then all we can do is make Harry welcome, and hope that Ginny comes to her senses and sees Harry for what he really is,' said Arthur.
'She's bound to, eventually,' I said. 'After all, she's a Prewett and a Weasley.'
'That's the problem. I worry that, one day, you'll see me for what I really am, Molly,' he told me.
'I did that years ago, you silly man,' I told him. 'Why do you think I married you?'
'For my money,' he said promptly.
I laughed, and kissed him. 'If only half of what Ron has told me is true, then Harry has had a hard life, poor mite. When Ron and the twins "rescued" him, those Muggles had locked him in his bedroom, and they were starving him! Can you believe it?'
'Unfortunately, I can,' he said, running his hand up my back.
'How tired are you?' I asked.
He kissed me.