The Sugar Quill
Author: Stubefied (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Hanging On  Chapter: Default
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Hanging On

This is about Molly and Moony. When I read the scene where Lupin approaches Mrs. Weasley after the boggart incident, I was touched that the members of the Order had bonded so thoroughly in such a short time. I was touched again on Christmas morning when Lupin comforted Molly when her sons could not. But Molly's caution about the werewolf in the hospital and the lack of evidence of other strong bonds outside her family made me think there must be something more to why these two people connected with each other. This is my guess at what.

Excerpts from Order of the Phoenix (Ch.9) by J.K. Rowling, who created Molly, Remus, and everyone else, are in bold.

Eternal gratitude this time to my encouraging beta, NightZephyr, my inspiring "tri-delta," who knows who he is, and to the snow.

August

Lupin looked from Mrs. Weasley to the dead Harry on the floor and seemed to understand in an instant. Pulling out his wand he said, very firmly and clearly, "Riddikulus!"

Harry's body vanished. A silvery orb hung in the air over the spot where it had lain. Lupin waved his wand once more and the orb vanished in a puff of smoke.

"Oh-oh-oh!" gulped Mrs. Weasley, and she broke into a storm of crying, her face in her hands.

"Molly," said Lupin bleakly, walking over to her, "Molly don't. . ."

But he knew she couldn’t help it. He knew these tears were likely the culmination of all the fears and worries that the summer had brought into her life. He recognized them, the tears of a mother who was feeling helpless in the face of danger to her children. Although this was a danger from without, not from within. . .

Next second she was sobbing her heart out on Lupin’s shoulder.

Molly had regarded him warily since they had arrived at Grimmauld Place, Sirius Black’s werewolf best friend. She had an irrational fear that he’d transform into a beast and set upon one of the children any minute.

But he had shown a level head and thoughtful consideration at Order meetings. His quiet voice was the one that could soothe Sirius in a fit of passion, Molly had noticed. And this was no time for frivolous paranoia about a good man. There were more than enough other things to legitimately worry about. And she needed a shoulder so badly right now. So she had landed on his.

“Molly, it was just a boggart,” he said soothingly, patting her on the head. “Just a stupid boggart…”

Yes, that was it. Pretend everything would be fine if it weren’t for the boggart.

“I see them d-d-dead all the time!” Mrs. Weasley moaned into his shoulder. “All the t-t-time! I d-d-dream about it…”

This was familiar to Remus. His mother had had nightmares, too. She would unintentionally wake him when, usually just after midnight, she would crack open his door to peek into his room, tears catching the moonlight on her face. Of course, he never did get to see her checking in on him during the full moon. He felt that she was checking to see that all was safe. Safe for him, and safe from him—his little brothers and sisters slept in adjoining rooms.

“D-d-don’t tell Arthur, “ Mrs. Weasley was gulping now, wiping her eyes frantically with her cuffs. “I don’t want him to know… Being silly…”

But Remus didn't think she was being silly. His father never spied on him in the middle of the night, in the middle of the month like that. Only his mother. But he never thought her silly for it. It was what mothers did.

Lupin handed her a handkerchief and she blew her nose.

She fretted still, but the panic was past. Voicing her worries did make them sound almost silly. She should have done it ages ago, and with Arthur.

But she wanted to be strong, to be brave, to make him proud. She would show him she was a true Weasley. She'd show everyone she that belonged in the Order, and not just because she could cook for an army. Show those Ministry Aurors that she wasn’t provincial or helpless just because she was a housewife. Show her children a mother they could be proud of, look up to, and depend on.

She looked at Remus. Despite his graying hair and lined face, she knew that he was not many years older than her first child. She wondered where his mother was and what she knew of her son’s life. Molly's had a mother’s heart, and it went out to him then. And for some reason that made her feel stronger.

December

Molly Weasley didn’t feel the need for strength on Christmas morning. Grimmauld Place wasn’t the Burrow, but it was bustling with merriness and friends and family. Some of her sons were notably missing. But it was a relief to not have to spend the day wondering if Percy would deign to visit. Since he didn’t know about Grimmauld Place, he certainly couldn’t be expected to stop by there for a taste of her Christmas pudding. His absence would hurt, but it would not be a personal slight. It would not ruin the holiday.

This was a happy day for Molly Weasley. The children’s gifts were piled at their bedsides, she was planning one of her finest Christmas dinners, and Arthur was going to be okay--as long as that surly werewolf in the next bed at St. Mungo’s didn’t give him “another bite” like he had threatened to. That would not be a neighborly kind of present. She hoped Arthur could hold his tongue.

As she made her way through the sitting room, she sighed girlishly and smiled. Her Arthur. She’d threatened him with violence a fair few times herself, when he’d go on about Quidditch or Muggles or whatever nonsense he had in his head at the moment. He was her Arthur, and he was going to be okay.

Molly was distracted from dreamily straightening an ornament on the tree (one with Arthur’s grinning face enchanted to sing “What Child Is This?” from Bill’s first Christmas) by a persistent flapping against the window behind her. She jumped and worriedly squeezed poor Arthur’s nose. The owls the Order used knew better than to be so indiscreet about their comings and goings—but not this one, making a ruckus in broad daylight.

And yet, she discovered as she parted the heavy curtains, this owl was familiar. Molly knew she ought to fight the excitement fluttering now inside her ribcage, faster than an owl’s wings—more like a hummingbird’s. But she had let her defenses rest, and this was Percy’s owl, Hermes. And he was carrying a package.

The package looked unsettlingly familiar. Racing her growing trepidation, she wrenched open the age-encrusted windows to let Hermes swoop overhead in a burst of sunlight and drop the package at her feet. She forgot about finding him an owl treat, and about the open window as well, when she noticed there didn’t seem to be a note attached to the lumpy bundle. She ripped open the wrappings, even as she noted that they looked too familiar, too—too exactly like the job she had lovingly done herself on Percy’s annual Christmas jumper. Perhaps the note was on the inside.

** **

Remus Lupin pushed away his pile of correspondence when he heard the Weasley twins jostle past his room on their way downstairs. The knowledge that the letters he’d been finishing might be the year’s only Christmas greetings for some of the lonely werewolves he had searched out and spoken to for Dumbledore weighed heavily on him, but Fred and George’s penchant for mischief-making was a more immediate concern. If he knew pranksters, which he rather thought he did, then the tension of the past few days and the excitement of the season would be begging the twins for some sort of release.

A good prank would give everyone a laugh. Remus just needed to make sure that the prank the boys picked was a good one, and well-placed. He didn’t want to stop Fred and George’s fun, just subtly guide it if necessary. He began his carefully casual stroll down the stairs.

His first thought when the sitting room came into view was that he had been too late. Molly was in tears and the twins hovered around her looking anxious. As he took in more details, his assessment changed. The open window, the circling owl, the Weasley jumper in Molly’s lap emblazoned with what looked like a flaming P, and the borderline vulgarities the twins were spewing about their brother all told him what was going on.

Fred and George didn’t know what to do. They were accustomed to their mother fussing, to their mother raving, and to their mother criticizing, and they knew how to deal with all of those. But they had not gotten used to their mother crying, and had never had to cope with it alone.

Remus Lupin did know what to do. This situation wasn’t unusual for him. Crying like this was what mothers did. They sobbed their eyes out over their children all the time. He had not been cried over by his own mother in a long while. But when he saw it this scene, it was familiar, and he vividly remembered.

It caught the twins’ attention when a swish of Remus’s wand pulled the window shut and locked and drew the curtains, making the room again dark and secure. Fred’s eyes met his, lost and desperate, not even trying to find humor in the slowly dizzying circles Hermes was making around the chandelier or the way his mother clutched Percy’s rejected jumper as though it would try to escape.

“Molly,” he said, and she looked up.

She started to explain as he neared the sofa, and he let her. As he bent to sit beside her, Fred and George took their chance to back away, and just before she collapsed onto his left arm, he heard the two soft pops of the boys Disapparating.

He mostly just listened and understood and made noises of assent. Finally, he offered, “However confused he may be, Molly, you can be comforted by this: At least for now he’s safe.”

Remus Lupin had not always been an optimist. Not a pessimist, either. Just resigned. But, ever since Sirius had been returned to him, he’d had faith in the future. There was a hope, and a chance, and when the world was falling down around you in terrifying silence, you had to look for it--the glimmer of good. And hang on.

In the dark sitting room of the Darkest Dark house, Molly Weasley sighed and mopped her face as she hung on.

She brushed off her robes, separating them from Lupin’s and noticing for the umpteenth time how badly his clothes needed to be mended by a more skilled hand than his, and how thin and worn the bits of his jumper she could see around the robes appeared to be. She didn’t know where his mother was, but he was here alone at Grimmauld Place at Christmas, and she knew, with some of her own sons out in the world that day, that she wished there was someone with them wherever they were looking out for them.

“Remus,” she asked, “What’s your favorite color?”

“Grey.” He felt he had a lot in common with grey. Neither black nor white.

She nodded and stood up, eyes still tearing, but now for a mixture of reasons, and headed for the kitchen. Remus stayed to take care of Percy’s owl and jumper, which he put away for next year.

June

When Molly heard of Sirius’s death, she immediately thought of Harry. Poor Harry. And then she had worried for each of her own children in turn, and for Arthur. It could have been any of them. It wasn’t until the second Order meeting after it happened that she noticed how unusually still and quiet Remus Lupin was. He was, after all, a still, quiet man, and unobtrusiveness is hard to notice; he spoke so calmly of the events of that night.

But, as she began to pay attention, it became clear to her that he had not discussed those events in the way he needed to. Ron said Harry hadn’t either. Hermione had tried to encourage him, but earned no response. Molly wondered if anyone had tried with Remus. She wondered who would. She tucked a package into her robes as she prepared for the next Order meeting.

She asked Remus to stay in the kitchen to help her clean up when they were done. This earned her a few quizzical looks from the others, but he silently complied.

She hadn’t planned this well. She worked on instinct. She startled him as he was wiping down the long table. She shoved a wooly grey lump into his hands. He’d know what it was. He’d seen Ginny and the boys in them often enough. She hoped he knew what it meant.

“I’d been meaning to save it for December,” she said as he took it and unfolded it. Grey. His favorite color was grey. He felt it suited him. He didn’t reflect often on his favorite color, though, and so was reminded of the last time he had. It had been with Molly, at Christmastime, when Sirius was still alive and he hadn’t felt so alone. Now, he was alone.

But then he looked at the jumper. At the dark grey R sprawling ridiculously across the pale front. And he dared wonder what it meant. That maybe he wasn’t quite so alone.

He gripped it very tightly. He had fistfuls of it and held it up almost to his chin, arms tight to his chest, and was reminded by the tickling there on his neck of Padfoot’s fur.

He actually didn’t talk about Sirius then. But he did let something go as he leaned slightly into Molly’s open arms, eyes squeezed shut, remembering, feeling pain and loss but not emptiness. He let something go, and yet, tightly, he hung on.

//
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