The Sugar Quill
Author: IsabelA113 (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: There Was An Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe...  Chapter: Default
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There was an old woman who lived in a shoe

A/N: Please review, I love to hear what you think. Thanks to my beta, Zsenya.

 

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.

She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do.

She gave them all broth,

without any bread,

Whipped them all soundly and sent them to bed.

-          Mother Goose

 

Arthur brought home a book of Muggle nursery rhymes once. Someone had charmed it to bite, but once the spell was broken he had found it rather charming and given it to the children. Molly was always partial to the one about the lady in the shoe. She could relate, well, except for the “old” part. She had a ways to go until she was old yet, thank you very much.

 

Looking up at her home from where she stood in the kitchen garden, she had to admit that with all of its precarious magical additions, the Burrow looked a bit like an over worn boot. And she did have quite a brood that often left her at a loss for what to do. Sometimes, even though they were almost all grown up and taller than she was, she wanted nothing more than to spank them and sent them to their rooms like the woman in the story. Of course, Molly had never laid a hand on her children in anger- not that she hadn’t considered it. No, luckily for them, she had something to keep her sane that the poor shoe woman did not. Arthur Weasley.

 

            Even after all this time, she couldn’t believe her good fortune. It was Molly’s opinion that she had married the finest catch at Hogwarts. True, he hadn’t been the richest, the smartest, or the most handsome, but he had all those things in good measure. Plus, he had been funny and well liked, and possessed of the kindest heart of anyone Molly had ever met. She smiled to herself as she bent to pull up another carrot. She had married a good man, one of the best. He had given her many happy years, a houseful of wonderful children, and more love than she could have asked for. These were the things that gave her strength in the dark times.

 

            Things were harder now than they had ever been. During the first rise of He Who Must Not Be Named, the Weasleys had simply been part of the frightened masses. Of course Arthur was slightly involved since he worked at the Ministry, but the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office was hardly known for its dangerous work. That suited Molly just fine. She had a hard enough time watching over her young family, without worrying about Arthur running out of the house to fight evil. Not to say that it had been easy. Every day they seemed to hear of new attacks, more old friends that they would never see again. And the awful randomness of it all; never knowing if they would be next.

 

            Somehow, Molly had thought that it would be easier this time around. She was not a frightened young woman anymore. This time, she had jumped at the chance to be a part of the fight. Not to be one of the helpless, terrified crowd had seemed appealing, although she would not have refused Dumbledore’s request even if it hadn’t. But she had wanted to be a part of it; to take a stand, to fight for what she believed, to make Arthur and the children proud.

 

            She knew that some of the other members of the Order found her ridiculous. She was the mother hen that they all put up with for the sake of a hearty meal. Well, that wasn’t exactly true. They knew Molly was doing her part, it was just that sometimes they treated her as though she was completely unreasonable. Imagine! Just because she was worried about people’s safety! She was not the unreasonable one, more likely she was one of the most sensible of the lot. The others didn’t understand.

 

            They didn’t have families, that was the problem. No matter how much they had seen, they didn’t understand what had been like for her during You Know Who’s first reign of terror. Years of fear and death, years, and all that time there had been six innocent lives depending on her. Molly had shoved those years into the attic of her mind and locked the door on them. Only now that He Who Must Not Be Named had returned did she realize that would not protect her from the most painful bit. The most painful bit was that they had believed that it was all over.

 

            Molly could remember the day that it had ended with the kind of clarity that one usually reserved for special events- weddings, anniversaries, the births of children. Halloween celebrations all over the country had been subdued that year. Arthur hadn’t wanted to take the children out to Diagon Alley, saying that Molly was in no condition to go running around after four little ones in that crowd. She suspected that, in truth, he was worried that there might be an attack but she appreciated that he was trying to protect her. They had settled on a special dinner at home and a little celebration afterwards.

 

            They had carved a pumpkin as a family, or at least tried. Once Arthur had gotten to scooping out the insides, chaos had broken out. The twins had thought it great fun to sling the seeded, orange goop at one another and the walls. Percy, who even at five hadn’t liked messiness, had taken refuge under the kitchen table, frowning and demanding that she and Arthur stop the twins at once. Little Ron had tasted some of the pulp from off his face and when he decided that he didn’t like it, he let out a wail like a banshee. Arthur had laughed- until he got a look at Molly’s face.

 

            Two hours, four baths, and several cleaning charms later, they had all retired to their respective bedrooms. Molly said her millionth “Thank you” to Merlin that this last one- and it would be the last- was a girl. Surely, girls didn’t cause so much trouble. Arthur, no doubt feeling guilty about the pumpkin fiasco, had rubbed her swollen feet and ankles then snuggled up next to her in their old bed, one hand on her rounded belly. He always did that when she was pregnant, and Molly thought it was terribly sweet.

 

            The first owl arrived around two in the morning. It tapped at the window, and both of them were instantly awake. Between the Death Eaters and the children, they had learned to be wary of sounds in the night. Arthur grabbed his wand from the bedside table and whispered, “Lumos.” He made his way to the window by its soft light, let in the tawny owl, and took the letter from its leg. When he read it, he went suddenly white. Molly’s heart leapt to her throat, and she slipped out of bed to join Arthur by the window.

 

“Arthur, what’s happened?” He did not respond. “Arthur!” She shook him.

 

“I can’t believe it,” he said in a strangled whisper.

 

“Arthur!” Molly cried shrilly, not bothering to keep her voice down. “You have to tell me what is going on!”

 

“I have to go to the Ministry.” He ignored her, hurried over to the wardrobe and pulled a pair of pants on right over his pajamas.

 

“Arthur Weasley! If you do not stop this instant and tell me what in Merlin’s name is going on, I will hex you from here to Hogwarts!”

 

Arthur looked at her, seeming to have a difficult time getting his mouth to form words. “Molly, I’ve had a letter from Arnold Peasgood- you know him, he’s an Obliviator. He’s just got back from a place called Godric’s Hollow. He says, he says that You Know Who is gone.”

 

Molly let out a shriek. “Gone? As in- oh my! Gone? Truly?”

 

“I don’t know.” He grabbed a set of robes from over a chair and pulled them on.   “Now Molly, we mustn’t get excited. I am going to go to the Ministry to see what I can find out.” He stuffed the letter into his pocket and rushed off down the stairs. Molly picked up her wand and summoned her dressing gown, then hurried after him.

 

She caught up with him in the kitchen. Without a word, she launched herself at him. The embrace was slightly awkward, but she did her best to bury her face in his shoulder. “Owl me as soon as you have news.”

 

He dropped a kiss onto her forehead. “I will.” His head dipped down and he kissed her lips tenderly. “I love you.”

 

“I love you too.”

 

Molly had spent most of the night in the kitchen. For hours she paced, cleaned, knitted, and nibbled on leftover sweets. Around four, Ron had provided a welcome distraction by waking for a bottle. Several more owls came for Arthur, some asking if he had any news, others offering bits of rumors. She read them all, but did not know what to believe. There may or may not have been two attacks, the first, on the Potters. She didn’t know them, but she knew of them, it would be so tragic to lose such a promising young couple. The child, a boy about Ron’s age, was alive, or so they said. Then there was some terrible curse that killed a dozen Muggles, although that could have been an exaggeration.

 

A little after six in the morning, the door creaked open and Arthur stepped into the kitchen. He rushed at Molly, picked her up, and swung her around, knocking over a chair and sending her knitting flying onto the floor. “It’s over, Molly!” he said into her ear, “The Minister confirmed it. Early this morning You Know Who cast a curse, but it backfired, and he was destroyed. He’s really gone!” Then he bent down and kissed her stomach enthusiastically. “Did you hear that, my little girl? It is all over.”

 

When she heard him say that, Molly let out a little sound and sank down into a chair. She tried to calm herself, but her chest kept heaving and the sobs bubbled up from the very depths of her. “Molly, please,” cooed Arthur, “Come on now, dear. Everything is going to be okay now. We’re safe. We’re all safe.”

 

She didn’t know how to explain to him. Her little girl was going to grow up in a world without He Who Must Not Be Named. She would never have to worry that she would come home to see the Dark Mark hovering over the Burrow. She would not lose any of her brothers to a gang of Death Eaters looking for sport, or cover her telltale red hair in Diagon Alley for fear of making herself a target. None of them would. Their lives had changed in an instant and it was almost too much to bear. Molly could hardly remember what it was like not to be afraid. How was one to begin living again?

 

Poor Arthur had been completely bewildered by her outburst. He had held her, and stroked her hair, and made her some tea when she was calm enough. When the sun rose and the children awoke, he had done his best to explain to them that the bad wizard was gone. They were fairly excited, but then, they hadn’t really understood how bad the bad wizard had been.

 

 They did not join the celebrations. When Arthur had finally explained to Molly about the Potters, Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew she had felt that it wouldn’t be right. But Arthur had stayed home from work and they had all played outdoors for as long as they could stand the chill, then they took good naps, and Molly had made a veritable feast with everyone’s favorite foods. Even now, she had a hard time labeling the day either good or bad. There had been so much to be happy about, but so much to grieve.

 

The wind in the garden was beginning to pick up, and Molly scolded herself for getting lost in her thoughts again. Arthur would be home from work soon and it wouldn’t do to keep him waiting for dinner, after all, he was still recovering. She stooped and gathered up the carrots in her apron. Walking back into the cluttered kitchen, she set the vegetables to washing themselves with a flick of her wand. Then she stood in the room for a minute, just enjoying the feeling of coming inside from a cold day. No, not just coming inside, but coming home.

 

She loved her husband, and her children, and her rickety old house, and she would be damned if some evil maniac with a wand was going to take any of them away from her. She chuckled, imagining her sons’ faces if they ever heard her say something like that out loud. Oh, she would surprise them, all right. Some day soon they would see that she was a lot tougher than she looked. She was going to make them proud.

 

Now that Molly really thought of it, she was nothing like that silly woman in the shoe. She wasn’t old, the Burrow was a fine house- thank you, and she had just the perfect number of incredible, if occasionally incredibly trying, children. And really, who ever heard of feeding their family broth without bread? Did the woman have no sense? No wonder her husband seemed to have disappeared. Everyone in that shoe would be a lot better off with a good meal. Drawing herself up, Molly raised her wand and turned around. With the precision of a conductor, she flicked her wrist and set about making the finest shepherd’s pie that Arthur Weasley had ever tasted.

 

 

A/N 2: Some people questioned my choice to have Molly pregnant during the flashback sequence. I think that this is entirely possible, within the cannon. We know that Hermione was 10 when she started Hogwarts, so maybe Ginny’s birthday also falls after the start of the school year. Plus, I like the idea of giving Molly a break between babies!

//
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