For the 2012 Hogwarts Games: Women's Football, 1.2.
Assigned pairing: Arthur/Molly.
The sound of sobs comes from the smallest bedroom. It's late – really late – when Arthur finally leaves George staring at the living room wall, only to find the sound of his wife crying.
He opens the door, knocking gently on the doorframe. "Molly?" he asks softly.
She looks up at him, her eyes red. "How is he?" she says, sniffing.
And Arthur will not lie, no matter how much she wants to hear that he's fine. "He's… surviving."
She wipes her cheeks forcefully as he crosses the room and sits beside her on their bed. Without a word, he wraps his arms tightly around her.
"I'm… not sure I know how to do this, Arthur. I'm not sure I can do this. I don't know how to be this strong."
He rubs circles on her back with his hand, still keeping a tight hold on her. "No one expects you to be invincible."
She drops her gaze, squeezing him tightly. "I cannot do anything else for him – for them. I cannot bring him back, no matter how much I wish I could. But I can continue on." She looks up, meeting her husband's familiar blue eyes. "He needs to see that life goes on."
Without thinking, he drops a kiss on her forehead. "You aren't invulnerable, Molly. Trying to pretend that you are… It's going to crumble eventually."
She exhales in what is almost a sigh. "I think I know that. But I can't help but try."
He nods. "I know." And he does; he understands. It's the way Molly is, the way she's always been. It's part of why he fell in love with her in the first place, so many years ago, and it's a part of why he still loves her now as much as he did then. She will do whatever it takes for the people she loves.
He sighs. "I'm sorry," he says softly.
She tilts her head slightly. "For what?"
"For not being here. During the day… I know it can't be easy."
She shakes her head, burrowing into his shoulder as she does. "I understand. Rebuilding the entire structure of the Ministry of Magic from the ground up can't be easy, either." She pulls in a breath. "They need you there."
"Molly, you know, don't you, that you're more important to me than the Ministry? That if you need me, that's more important?"
"I know that. You're a good man." She sighs. "But I don't think you could do any more than I can."
"I might not be able to do anything more for them. But I might be able to help you. Molly, you can't shoulder all this by yourself."
She raises her head from where it's been buried into his shoulder. "Charlie is extraordinarily like his father," she comments, seemingly at random. But Arthur knows her well enough by now to wait – the connection will eventually be revealed. She'll keep talking. And, sure enough, after a moment, she does. "And not just in his obsessive personality." Molly smiles, and Arthur grins sheepishly at her. "He… Is intuitive. In helping people. He knows… what to say. Where to be." She pauses for a moment. "He's the only one who's gotten George to say a word since…" Molly cannot finish the sentence, but she keeps talking despite it. "He's been an angel." She smiles sadly. "But then, Charlie has always been the glue, hasn't he? The mediator." She shakes her head, realizing she's trailing off subject. "I haven't been shouldering it by myself."
"And Charlie?" Arthur cannot help but ask. At Molly's slightly puzzled look, he elaborates. "Does Charlie have someone to lean on?"
"He says he's all right," she says, but her voice is soft, lacking confidence. "He says that he was separate from it all until the end, and so it isn't so hard." Arthur can tell that she is trying to convince herself as much as she is trying to convince him.
Arthur touches her cheek softly. "Charlie isn't invincible either."
"I know that. But if we both pretend to be… Well, we're muddling through."
"I know." She sighs. "I'll talk to him tomorrow, all right?"
He kisses her cheek. "Good. Now get some sleep, okay?"
And as he holds her into the night, Arthur knows that Molly is not sleeping, but he doesn't say anything because he's not sleeping either.
Things don't ever stop being different, he thinks. Things won't ever go back to the way they were. But Molly is right. They're muddling through.