This was written for My Dear Professor McGonagall's "Mother and Child Competition" at the Harry Potter Fanfiction Challenges Forum. I hope you enjoy it.
A Cake for George
Molly jumped, and turned around, looking slightly guilty.
"Mum, what are you doing?"
Molly shrugged and tried to look nonchalant.
"Baking," she said, in the manner of one admitting to something slightly shameful.
Fred shook his head, looking puzzled.
"But Mum," he protested. "It's four in the morning."
"I know." Molly turned back to her mixing bowl without further comment and proceeded to break several eggs into the mixture.
"Mum... Why are you baking cakes at four in the morning?" Fred asked, in what he clearly thought was a calm and reasonable voice.
Molly shrugged again and didn't turn around. Instead she began to beat the mixture in the bowl with a wooden spoon. Fred watched her perplexedly for a minute or two.
"You could do that by magic much more easily," he pointed out.
His mother threw down the spoon, burst into tears and rounded on him.
"I know I could!" she shouted. "I know I could, but I don't want to, alright? It helps doing it this way."
Fred raised his eyebrows and backed away slightly.
"Calm down, Mum," he said. "Calm down. I was just making a suggestion." He pulled his wand from his pyjama pocket and waved it in the direction of the kettle, which floated over to the tap.
"Tea?" he asked.
His mother, now beating frantically at her mixture with her back to him and her shoulders shaking nodded, but said nothing. Fred walked over and put his arm around her shoulders, took the spoon from her hand and led her over to a seat at the scrubbed wooden table.
"George is okay, you know Mum," he said quietly.
Molly managed a small smile. "Of course he is," she acknowledged with a hiccup. "That's why you're up and about at four o'clock in the morning, isn't it? He's fine. Quite fine." She was crying again.
Fred didn't answer immediately. Instead he crossed over to the kettle and busied himself with teacups and milk, keeping his back turned firmly away from his mother. It wasn't until he had waved his wand sending a full cup of tea over to her, that he answered.
"He was snoring," he said lightly. "Woke me up." He picked up his own cup and sat down. Molly put a hand over his where it rested on the table.
"Of course dear," she said. "I never thought there was any other reason."
Fred snorted, but said nothing. They both sipped their tea in a companionable silence, but Fred could never sit still for long and was soon on his feet again.
"What are you baking anyway?" he asked, putting an experimental finger into the bowl and licking it. He made a face.
"I like plain chocolate cake," he complained. "I don't know why you want to put orange in it."
His mother did not reply, keeping her eyes fixed on her teacup. Fred sat down beside her again and took her hand.
"George's favourite," he said matter of factly. "Did you make ginger cake when Greyback attacked Bill and fruitcake when Dad got bitten by that snake of You Know Who's?"
Molly was crying again now.
"Marzipan cake for Dad," she corrected him through her tears. "It's Ron and Percy who like fruitcake best."
Fred gave a short laugh, and reached over and hugged her.
"I love you, Mum," he said. "Does baking help?"
His mother was laughing too now, a trifle shamefacedly.
"Not really," she acknowledged. "But it makes me feel as if I'm doing something."
Fred sighed, and swiped impatiently at his own eyes with the back of his hand.
"Perhaps I should try it," he said shakily, and his mother laughed.
"Perhaps you should," she said.
She stood up and waved her wand, summoning a tin from a shelf, and pouring the cake mixture into it. Fred watched her as she smoothed the top and slid the tin into the oven.
"Mum..." he said, in a wheedling tone. "If you must spoil chocolate cakes with orange, can you at least put white chocolate drops on the top? For me?"
Molly smiled, wiping her hands on the apron she wore over her old dressing gown.
"Fetch them then," she said, with a nod towards the pantry. "Second shelf down, on the left."
Fred stood up and crossed over to the pantry, returning in less than a minute with the bag of chocolate drops. He gave them to his mother with a worried look on his face that made him look much younger than his years.
"He will be okay, won't he Mum?" he asked abruptly. "George?"
Molly smiled and pulled him into a hug.
"Of course he will, dear," she said firmly. "Of course he will."