[identity profile] sabretoothmolly.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] bait_backup

*Her first thought as her eyes snap open is: the baby! But it isn't the baby, who is resting peacefully at the moment, as if to make up for every ill-timed pulse or kick of the weeks previous. And for once--for once in the fresh unmitigated hell that someone decided to name the third trimester--it isn't her bladder. She's just awake, suddenly and unceremoniously awake next to her gently snoring husband for no reason at all. Experimentally, Molly shifts onto her side and finds it no more comfortable than being on her back. She shifts onto her back and finds it even less comfortable then it was to begin with. She closes her eyes and thinks of what she'd like to do around the house in that mythical future in which she Has The Time--clean out the broom shed and repaint it light blue, recover the frayed ottoman in the den with something fresh and pretty, ask Arthur to make her a new knife rack--and although this usually helps her get to sleep, she opens her eyes some fifteen home improvement projects later no more drowsy than when she began.

So, sighing, Molly heaves herself out of bed and slides her swollen feet into her slippers, shouldering on her dressing gown and tucking her wand in the pocket. Arthur stirs a bit, his arm flopping around in search of her, but he quiets, and she shuffles downstairs into the kitchen in search of a cup of tea, because her day has begun whether she wants it to or not. She's just pouring the boiling water into the mug when the clock begins to grind and clank, an ugly, mechanical sound like it's chewing on something.

She looks up at it in blank confusion with the kettle in her hand. It grinds and grinds and emits a few sparks, and then two identical hands pop off it, one after the other, and bounce onto the table blackened and smoking.

Very carefully, Molly replaces the kettle. She scours a fleck of last night's dinner off the stove that she must've missed last night. Conscientiously, she waters the plants by the sink. Every time her eyes wander over to the little smoking twisted bits of metal on the kitchen table, she drags them back again and gives them something to look at. Every time she almost allows herself to think, to know--her hands find something to do, with the sudden certainty that if only she behaves perfectly normally, perfectly calmly, whatever godly figure is observing her will have time to correct his error, no harm done.

It's more than an hour later that breakfast is not only ready but flawless. Molly keeps a warm and welcoming home, but not always pin-neat one--today, though, is another story. The kitchen is sparkling. The table is immaculately set for seven (plus Ronald's high chair) down to the neatly folded napkins. There's towers of toast and lidded platters of eggs and sausage and sliced tomatoes arranged just-so on a plate. There's tea and coffee, and hot cereal for the boys, and a bit of mashed up fruits and turnip for Ronald. There's a glistening pitcher of pumpkin juice, and when the Prophet arrives she makes sure it's folded neatly at Arthur's plate. As the new sunlight filters into the kitchen, the table is faultless. Molly sits ramrod-straight at her place, ashen-faced and very still, her hand laid over the little blackened twists of metal as if to stop them marring the picture.*

Date: 2011-10-10 08:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mugglesdowhat.livejournal.com
*It isn't his birthday, and they aren't expecting company. That's why the very fist tip-off isn't Molly's pallor, or the way she's holding herself. They've had enough children together that Arthur can think of reasonable excuses for those. No, the first hint that something is wrong is how perfect the whole scene in the kitchen is. There's no bustling, enchanted culinary equipment, not so much as a crumb out of place, and the instant Arthur sets foot in the room, he goes very still. The boys are all still asleep, and the silence is deafening; his stomach turns uneasily as he studies his wife, and he hates himself for what has to come next.*

...What happened.

Date: 2011-10-10 08:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mugglesdowhat.livejournal.com
*In thirteen years of marriage, it's the first time that Arthur truly doesn't know what to do. He stares at the clock hands on the table and understands immediately what's happened, and his heart sinks horribly, but there isn't time for that now. Swallowing back the tightness that warps round his throat, he looks more closely at Molly's face, re-reading her posture and pallor and tone into a horrible understanding - she's been up God knows how long, the twins died sometime in the night, and she hasn't - won't, can't - accept that fact. So she's been down here cleaning, making enough toast to feed the whole village, because her baby brothers are dead.

Alright.

After a moment more of standing very still, Arthur crosses to Molly and lays a warm hand on her shoulder and bends to press a kiss to the top of her head. He stays like that for a few seconds, squeezing his hand to make the tremor there stop, and shuts his eyes hard as he breathes in the scent of her hair, and prays for her sake that the levee won't break until he can get the boys out of the house.

Straightening slowly, he squeezes her shoulder one more time and clears his throat. He feels ill, and goes to get a scrap of paper from the nearby desk, speaking as he scrawls off a quick note to Muriel.*

Did it break, dear? Terribly sorry. Careless of me.

Date: 2011-10-10 09:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mugglesdowhat.livejournal.com
*And he will take it, because what else can he do? Another look at Molly and he stops writing; Errol won't get to Muriel fast enough. He's just going to have to send the boys by Floo and give Bill a note for her. Crossing out a few words and re-writing things, he folds the parchment and hesitates for a second on the way to the stairs. Taking each move very carefully, he drops into a couch at Molly's side and covers her hand with his, pressing it hard and speaking gently.*

...Molly....

Date: 2011-10-11 10:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mugglesdowhat.livejournal.com
*Okay. So that's where things are; he'd been half afraid of that, but at least it means he can get the kids out of the house before everything breaks, and after that -

After that, Arthur's working without a net.

Swallowing again, he kisses Molly's shoulder and keeps his voice as calm, as steady as he can.*

I'm going to get the boys up and send them to Muriel's, and then I'll be right back. You stay here, alright, Molly?

Date: 2011-10-27 05:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mugglesdowhat.livejournal.com
The boys will eat at Muriel's.

*That isn't what she means and they both know it, but Arthur says it firmly anyway. As for himself...he considers taking a piece of toast just for Molly's sake, but he doesn't have the stomach for it.

Making himself move, he squeezes her shoulder as he stands, and then vanishes upstairs to try and do in five minutes what normally takes at least half an hour. Getting six boys, all between one and ten and two of them trouble multiplied, dressed and down to the fireplace is no small feat, but Arthur manages it. Bill's first, and he helps - the child is a saint, Arthur thinks sometimes, the way he is with his little brothers - keeping the twins bundled shoulder to shoulder in a sleepy blanketed huddle as he frog-marches them downstairs. Charlie's fine - seems to sense something's wrong, like Bill - and Percy's too obedient to be much of a problem. All in all it goes more smoothly than Arthur would've hoped, though he hates the look Bill gives him as he reappears at the bottom of the stairs, Ron in his arms. The boy's standing there near Molly with one hand on George's tousled head, clearly aware that some fundamental shift in the family's whole axis has happened, and his eyes ask what his words only hedge at.*

Dad - ?

*He wants to lie. Arthur rarely lies to his sons, but he wants more than anything to tell Bill it's going to be fine, that Mum's just a bit tired and it's all going to be alright. But the words fail in his throat, and he shifts Ron into one arm as he goes to scoop a handful of Floo powder from the jar on the mantle.*

You're just going to Auntie Muriel's for the day, Bill. *His voice is an undertone; this isn't for the other boys, who are mostly too sleepy to listen anyway.* I'll explain everything later. Take care of your brothers - I'll come get you this afternoon. Alright?

*Bill nods, too solemn for a ten-year-old, and Arthur's heart aches at the gravity in the boy's face. With a last regretful look at him, he tosses the powder into the fire and firmly tells it where to take them, and sees them all in safely, Ron held securely in Bill's arms. It's only then that he can look back to his wife, at the twisted bits of metal under her hand. He debates just running with her charade, but the idea of letting her just lock everything out....*

...No one from the Ministry's come about it yet?

Date: 2011-11-12 04:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mugglesdowhat.livejournal.com
*Arthur rather hates their front door, he thinks in a disjointed way, because the only people who use it and the sort who don't actually know his family - everyone they know comes in through the kitchen, always - and usually come with bad news.

He doesn't want to go. He doesn't want to hear that those two boys are dead, not from someone who comes in through the front door and didn't even know them. (He still thinks of them as boys, sometimes, still remembers them as the cheeky eleven-year-olds he'd met on a train so many years ago, all bright smiles and freckles and good-natured pranks the entire ride to Hogwarts. The prefects had all known off the bat that the Prewett twins would be trouble, and Molly had been horrified, and Arthur had secretly thought they were magnificent.)

He goes, though, because someone should and Molly can't. As he'll do so much else in the next few days, he does it for her, to spare her having to hear this. It goes exactly as he'd thought it would: he steps outside and shuts the door behind to keep their words from drifting to his wife, and the two solemn Ministry employees regretfully inform him that Gideon and Fabian Prewett were murdered by Death Eaters during the night, the case is under investigation and they'll be kept informed, the Ministry is so sorry for their loss, the Prewetts were truly heroes and their deaths will be deeply felt by the whole country.

Arthur listens, sick and silent, and all he can think of the whole time are two little boys on a train years ago.*

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