: Complessatissima Story
: Rant and Guilt on a Darkened Staircase Chapter
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Rant and Guilt on a Darkened Staircase (ed)
"Rant and Guilt on a Darkened Staircase"
Molly listened in at the closed bedroom door, satisfied that Ron and Harry were making an effort to follow her orders and go to sleep without any whispering. She made her way along the darkened corridor, but at the top of the stairs she paused, leaning her forearm flat against the wall and her forehead against her wrist, closing her eyes and willing herself to stop trembling. All alone here in the upstairs corridor, she couldn't deny that tension was eating away at her, wearing her down, and she was painfully aware of how badly she was handling it. She, of all people, who was supposed to be strong, who had always been a pillar for her children and for Arthur, found herself lost in confusion and doubt.
That evening at dinner, in the basement kitchen, she had been consumed by self-righteousness and indignation. Her authority had been so openly undermined, and her desire to protect her children - and among them, in her mind, she always included Harry - had been so wrongly misinterpreted that she could have hexed every Order member present.
But now, here in the silence, she thought that part of her trembling might be attributed to her guilt and shame at what she had said during the contest of wills at the table.
She shook her head as if to clear it, and stood up straighter. "No", she thought as her sense of conviction returned, "they really were horrible, they did treat me unfairly, and I was right to stand up for my principles." She thought of all of them as they had been seated around the table. All of the adults had been at the meeting, as had she, of course, but did any of them even realize that she had managed, besides, to prepare a hot meal for all of them? No, they all just waltzed up to the table after a bit of token help, sat down, and acted as if running a household were child's play. The only "help" had been from Fred and George, who had nearly chopped Sirius' hand off, and of course from Tonks, who had helped by accepting that it was better for her to stay out of the way. Remus had mentioned that the stew looked wonderful, true, but no one else had said a word. Torrents of appreciation from all sides, she thought bitterly.
Running through the evening's events was fueling her sense of indignation. She went on to let her mind rest on the outbursts that had followed dinner. She still couldn't believe Sirius's nerve, skipping over the fact that Harry was only fifteen, and wanting to provide him with details that even Dumbledore had warned him not to give. The boy really had been through enough; wasn't that clear to everyone? Of all people, his godfather should realize that. She had heard him, only a few days prior, reminiscing with Remus about Gryffindor and Quidditch and James's talent, and how Harry flew as well as his father. There was nothing wrong with that comment, but considering it together with a dozen other random comments made it clear to Molly that Sirius was blurring the generational line that divided Harry and his father. And that was wrong: Molly had always known instinctively that parents had to be parents and children had to be children. And after all, no matter how old they got, wasn't she still their mother?
Thinking of Sirius almost made her blood boil. How could he possibly think that knowledge would give Harry protection? Not only was Sirius ungrateful for the chance to recuperate in Grimmauld Place in safety, he was also showing definite signs of frustration and recklessness: really, he was more rebellious than any teenager! The events of two years ago had been explained to her, and, wanting to be fair, she tried to put from her mind the images of Sirius standing over Ron's bed with a knife, and his breaking Ron's leg. She had made herself understand the reasons for his actions, but still, it was obvious that the man was simply too impulsive. It was lucky for all of them that she had walked into the kitchen when she did, or he may well have mentioned the prophecy!
Her agitated mind jumped back to the scene at dinner.It hadn't been only Sirius who had defied her. There were those who had remained silent instead of supporting her, and that stung, too. Even worse, she had had to plead with her own husband for support, and he had only reminded her, in front of everybody, that Harry would indeed need to be filled in. "To a certain extent", true, but she had expected him to put his foot down. Her last chance had been Remus, but in that calm, rational way of his (that she had admired up to this evening, but which she now found extremely irritating), he had supported Sirius. In fact, he had broken out of his calm shell only to put her down, reminding her that she wasn't the only one who cared about Harry.
That comment had hurt. She reflected on it as she stood on the darkened landing. She knew that it was true, but she also knew that it took a parent to understand a parent, and while she remembered the scene at the table she realized that she simply couldn't make them understand her. That thought, more than any other, had made her almost lose control and cry right in front of everyone. Perhaps being misunderstood was what hurt the most. Part of her job as a mother, she knew, was to understand her children, to help them in their troubles, and to defend them, as long as possible, from the brutality of the world. She did it instinctively, and she knew only too well what a burden her motherly instinct could be. She saw life through a mother's eyes, and of course she would never wish to have things any other way, but sometimes her role was hard, so very hard. She found herself wishing, as she slowly sat down on the topmost step and hugged her knees, for her own mother to be there, right now, right there. She needed to be babied; she needed the weight of the world to be taken off her own shoulders, if only for a short while.
The thought that her family risked dying at the hands of the dark side wasn't just a nightmare: it was a constant fear that she carried with her through every day. Could anyone really understand that?
Could anyone, really?
All of a sudden, she realized what she was allowing herself to do, and, with a gasp, she started.
Self-righteousness and indignation were beaten down in that instant as if they had been slapped. Doubt and guilt didn't just creep in to take their place; they flew right to the front of her mind.
"Shame on you!"
She spoke those word aloud, to herself, there in the dark.
How could she possibly think those thoughts? How could she sit there and wallow in self-pity, and blame everyone near her for the tension they certainly were all feeling, as if it were their fault? Yes, perhaps she was misunderstood sometimes, but who wasn't? She was surrounded by a loving family, and loyal peers and friends whom she needed as much as they needed her; none of them were perfect, but she herself certainly wasn't any better.
She willed herself to stop ranting and instead to focus clearly, and she cringed to think of the horrid things she had thought and said that evening. Yes, several comments had been justifiable, but that comment to Sirius about having been in Azkaban during Harry's growing up - how could she possibly have even thought that! Didn't she realize what the poor man had been through? She had been wishing for her mother only a few moments ago, but had her mother really been there Molly would have gotten the good tongue lashing she deserved.
She had even thought unkindly of Arthur, the kindest and dearest husband any witch could ever hope for. Couldn't she see the pain in his eyes, the hollow look that had been there ever since Percy had left?
She realized now that she mustn't let her worries get the best of her: there was no excuse for the selfish insensitivity that she had shown that evening. Certainly the burden of trying to be strong was no excuse for her behaviour, when all of them had their past traumas and all of them were doing their best to cope with today and tomorrow.
In the middle of these reflections, she felt something creep along beside her. Lighting her wand, she looked down to see two Extendable Ears slinking their way down the stairs. "Those two…" she muttered. The twins were an even bigger headache now that they were of age, but Molly stopped herself from pouncing. "Those two" had always known how to laugh their way through any situation, and that was something she could learn from them. How to smile, to lighten up at least, if sometimes laughter wasn't quite attainable.
And if the burden of life became too much for her sometimes… then she would let herself be comforted, thankful that the people close to her would be there for her. Their unity gave them strength, and with one another's help they would be strong enough to weather what the future would bring.
Instead of making a fuss over the Ears, she merely picked up the ends of both of them and spoke calmly: "I predict that these will be in the bin within one minute." When she felt them being tugged backwards, she added, "Besides, everyone has already gone to bed." She released them, and listened to them slithering back up the hall.
She needed to apologize to Sirius, but that would have to wait until the morning. Tomorrow would bring the bustle of breakfast, then the Doxys, but she owed it to him to find a quiet moment to explain her outburst and ask her to forgive her for it. She only hoped that he would indeed accept her apology.
With a sigh, she started down to the kitchen, and the washing-up, which she had told everyone that she would take care of. She allowed herself a smile as she descended. Dear Arthur, with his Muggle obsession… she could hardly imagine a Muggle coping with a kitchen like the one she would be finding now, after a dinner for … what was it? Thirteen people…
She froze, and pictured everyone as they had been around the table. Yes, there had been thirteen of them that evening. Thirteen! And who had been the first…
How had things gone? They had all been seated around the table, the discussion had heated up, then she had made that horrible comment about Azkaban, and then…
Oh, Merlin, the first one to rise had been Sirius!
She shook herself mentally and nearly scolded herself aloud for being so superstitious. She didn't know whether Sirius was the superstitious type, but if no one had noticed anything that evening, she certainly wasn't going to mention it! She put it from her mind, and continued down toward the basement.
The storm of emotions that had burst through her with her reflections had calmed, and the only trace of her previous indignation was the guilt she now felt at having been indignant in the first place.
She promised herself that, from now on, she would try to step outside her own worries, and to live her role with more attention toward the sensitivities and sufferings of others. She was far from perfect, but she would try her best.
Her heart felt lighter as she thought of tomorrow and her resolve to make things right.