Molly Weasley watched her family eat and talk and laugh together and, as always, she felt like she really didn't belong. She had thought that once she 'found herself' and figured out who she was she would fit in more but it hadn't happened. She still didn't know who she was and she certainly didn't feel like she was a member of the Weasley family.
It was the last Sunday gathering before the younger kids returned to Hogwarts and Molly wondered if she would say more when that had happened, perhaps when she thought she might actually be heard.
"Alright, Molly?" Asked Ted from next to her, he was holding hands with Victoire who was talking to her mother. Molly looked at him and nodded.
"I'm fine, just…"
"LILY LUNA POTTER, DO NOT UTTER A SINGLE SPELL!" Came her Aunt Ginny's loud voice from across the table, Molly jumped and looked over to where Lily and Hugo were sat, Lily had her new wand out and did look on the verge of performing magic.
"I was just…"
"Wand, now!" Ordered her father and she grumpily handed her wand over to him who put it in his cloak. The family lapsed back into conversation as if there had been no interruption and Ted started talking to his girlfriend leaving Molly lost in her own thoughts again.
She was nineteen now and she still felt as unsure of herself as she had ever felt. She was the 'Other Weasley', that was what the papers called her, that was what Molly had once overheard her father calling her as well. She was the only Weasley not in Gryffindor (she had been a Hufflepuff), she was the only Weasley that didn't have even a hint of red-hair (hers was a dark blond/light brown), and she was the only Weasley who wasn't amazing.
"Molly?" Hugo asked quietly, he had stood up and walked around the table to reach her.
"Yeah?" Molly replied, she often thought she had a kindred spirit in Hugo, he was also quiet and shy, the family thought he'd grow out of it but Molly hoped that he wouldn't.
"If I get stuck at school, can I owl you?" He asked, leaning against the back of Lucy (Molly's perfect twin sister's chair), Molly was about to reply when Lucy snorted.
"Molly wouldn't be much help, Hugo, you can owl me though." She said, laughing. Molly was going to shoot a death glare at her sister but decided she couldn't be bothered.
"But Molly went…" Hugo started but Lucy cut across him.
"She only got 3 NEWT's and they were in easy subjects so…"
"Shut up, Lucy." Snapped Victoire, looking over at her.
"Just trying to help Hugo." Lucy replied,
"No you weren't you were trying to belittle…"
"Just stop it, both of you. Hugo, you can owl me if you want, I'm sure even I can manage first year stuff, Lucy." Molly said quietly, Lucy rolled her eyes but didn't reply.
"Molly, have you asked Stuart Banks about an appraisal yet?" Her father asked, looking at her from across the table. Percy Weasley was now Minister for Magic and Molly knew he was embarrassed that his daughter was still a junior officer in the Muggle-worthy excuse committee (MWEC) rather than fully qualified, like Lucy was in International Magical Cooperation.
"No, we're quite busy at the moment." Molly replied, trying to control her blush.
"Molly if you don't ask, you won't get. You have to try and better yourself, you've been there for over a year now." Molly nodded but did not reply, she rarely replied to her father when he bothered her about work.
"I'm sure you'll be qualified soon, Molly." Said Brian from next to Lucy. Brian Matthews was Lucy's boyfriend of just over a year. He was charming, well-connected, and attractive, all of the things Lucy looked for in men. And all the things her parents wanted for their daughters.
"Thanks." Molly muttered, not looking at him, he had the power to dazzle her and she really didn't want to fumble her words in front of the family again.
The rest of the afternoon passed quickly and by six o'clock Molly was one of the last few remaining, she helped her Grandma, and namesake, clear up the dishes and then helped her Uncle George tidy away the tables.
"I'll be off now, Grandma, see you next week." Said Molly, walking towards the fireplace, she still hadn't got her Apparition license and after two failures she was too embarrassed to take the test again. The Floo network would have to do.
"Oh, thank you Molly dear, you're such a help." Molly nodded and picked up the Floo powder, she was just about to step into the fireplace when her Uncle George spoke.
"Booked your next test yet?" He asked, smiling.
"No, I think I'll just leave it."
"You should try again, Molly." Said her Grandfather from the table, Molly shook her head.
"There's no point, it would only give Dad something else to bother me about, see you next week." Molly dropped the powder, "Number four, Grouten Rd." Her family watched her disappear in a flash of green flames.
"Bless her." Said Molly, sitting down next to her husband.
"No confidence, not an ounce. I thought she'd get some when she left Hogwarts but…" Arthur tailed off shaking his head.
"I don't think Lucy helps, perfect in everything." Said George still looking at the fireplace where his niece had disappeared.
"Nor the papers, did you see that article on Thursday? They found her NEWT results."
"Bugger, it's not like she didn't try as well, Neville said she was always in the library." Said George thinking back to a conversation with the Head of Gryffindor a few months ago after Fred had tried to prank his sister and they had ended up duelling in the corridor.
"I wish they'd stop calling her the 'Other Weasley', it's horrible." Said Molly and her husband and son nodded.
"Well, it's bound to get worse with re-election coming up, that's probably why Perce was on at her about getting qualified."
"I know, perhaps they'll focus on Lucy."
"I don't think that would help, dear." Said Arthur.
"I'll owl Charlie, get him to talk to her, she always had a soft spot for him." Molly said, glancing over at the family clock and seeing that her Granddaughter was now 'Home'.
"Probably because he actually managed to escape!" Laughed George, Charlie was still working in Romania.
"Probably, still he's coming home in a few weeks. He could talk to Percy and Audrey as well."
"Has she spoken to Audrey since…?"
"I don't think so, I know Felix didn't mean any harm but Audrey could have defended her."
"I know, no wonder her confidence is shot, honestly saying that he would have thought she was adopted if she hadn't been a twin, what was he thinking?" Arthur said, shaking his head.
"His dementia is getting worse, I'm sure he didn't mean any harm." Said Molly, thinking back to the incident in June, "It was Audrey that made it worse, Molly probably wouldn't have been so upset if her mother hadn't said that there could have been a baby swap."
"They'll smooth things over soon, Molly dear." Said Arthur, rubbing his wife on the back.
"I hope so, oh I do worry about that one more than any of the others. Thank heavens for Ted and Victoire. They give her more confidence." George nodded at his mother's words, in spite of the three being a year apart from each other, they had always been best friends and Ted and Victoire had always defended Molly when things got too much. George had been worried when Ted and Victoire had started dated, he knew most of the family had also been concerned, but it seemed to work fine. They were the Golden trio of the next generation.
Molly pulled off her shoes and pulled on her slippers before pointing her wand at the kettle and making a cup of tea. She liked living alone, Ted and Victoire had offered her the spare bedroom in their flat but Molly didn't want to intrude, and they both worked such long hours she knew that when they were off they wanted to spend time together and Molly would only be the third wheel.
She lived in a small, one bedroom, flat in London. Her father had agreed to pay half of the rent until she qualified because her starting salary was not high. She knew how disappointed he had been when she had done so badly on her exams and she knew that he had pulled some strings to get her into the ministry.
If she was honest she hated her job, she hated working at the Ministry where she ran in to at least three family members every time she as much as went to the toilet, but it paid most of the bills and kept her parents of her back, for the most part.
Molly just didn't know what she wanted to be, she had never known. Lucy had wanted to follow in her father's footsteps since she was seven, Victoire had always wanted to be an Auror and Ted had always wanted to be a Healer. Molly never knew. She wasn't like James who changed his mind every few weeks though, Molly didn't have any idea. She knew she wasn't smart enough for most things, she got stressed easily and wasn't particularly gifted with duelling, with any magic really.
She walked over to the computer and turned it on, she was the only one in her family with a computer, her parents had bought it for her when she got the job at the MWEC, they probably felt that she needed to know more about Muggles, despite the fact that Muggle Studies was the only exam she got an O in, Care of Magical Creatures and History of Magic had both been just A's.
The computer loaded slowly and Molly picked up the Muggle magazine that she had bought earlier and flicked through it until the machine was ready. When it was she opened the word processor and started typing. Writing was the only thing Molly knew she could do, the only thing she knew she was good at. No one knew, not even Ted and Victoire, but Molly preferred it that way. It was her world, the world she created inside the computer. She had often thought about trying to get published in the Muggle world but fear of rejection had always kept her from really trying. She published short stories online and the Muggles that read them really seemed to enjoy them, seemed to appreciate her, and she craved it.
After an hour of writing Molly closed down the computer and went to put her pyjamas on, when she returned to the living room she saw an Owl perched on the window. Jemima, her Aunt Hermione's owl, Molly relieved it of the letter and gave it some owl treats. She opened the letter and smiled.
Can I right to you when I'm at Hogwarts?
Molly smiled and found some parchment to write a reply.
Of course you can write to me when you're at Hogwarts. I hope you have a great time and good luck with the sorting.
Lots of love,
Molly attached the letter back onto Jemima and she flew off. Molly had only added the 'W.' because Hugo had, how many Hugo's did he think Molly knew? A very large part of Molly hoped that Hugo was place in Hufflepuff, he was more like Molly than the rest of the family. She knew how much he wanted to be in Gryffindor though, like the entire rest of the family.
By ten Molly was ready for bed, she pulled her hair back into a loose plait and climbed into her double bed. When she had bought it her mother had made some comment about it being a waste of a double bed if Molly didn't get a boyfriend soon, but Molly loved the bed and she had bought it with her own savings.
Molly's relationship with her mother had always been strained. Percy, Audrey and Lucy were all smart and ambitious and Molly had never been either. Molly and her mother had had brief periods of not talking before but none as long as this time. It had been nearly two months now and neither witch had uttered a word. Molly was waiting for her mother to apologise but she suspected she never would.
Molly knew that her Grandpapa had not meant to be offensive, his dementia was getting worse now that his wife had died and he was alone, but it was her mother's comment that upset her. Did she seriously think that Molly had been swapped at birth? Of course she didn't, she was just being cutting, as always. Molly and Lucy had always been different, never identical in looks or personality. Lucy was smart without even trying, Molly was slow in spite of all the hours she worked. Lucy was beautiful, Molly was average. Lucy was charming and charismatic and popular with boys, Molly was shy, awkward and had never had a serious relationship. Lucy was a model-Weasley, Molly was not.
Molly Weasley knew the papers were right, she was the 'Other Weasley'.
Molly arrived early for work on Monday and sat at her tiny desk looking through the letters for her supervisor, Megan Parsons, so that she could prioritize them before putting them on her desk. Megan was only 22 but was fully qualified and took this to mean that she could treat Molly like her personal slave.
The head of MWEC was Stuart Banks who was a serious and rather scary middle-aged wizard who worshipped the ground that Percy Weasley walked on, Molly suspected that her father had used this reverence to get his daughter a job here.
Molly put the letters on Megan's desk and was just walking back to her own when Megan walked in, carrying her designer handbag and carrying a paper cup of coffee.
"Morning, Weasley. The letters ready?" She said, flicking her bouncy blond hair out of her eyes, Molly wondered why she didn't just tie it back.
"They're are on your desk." Molly replied, sitting back down. Megan sat down and pulled out her mirror to check her make up.
"Mr Banks in yet?" She asked.
"I don't think so."
"Right, well get him a coffee for when he arrives." Molly nodded and walked to the refreshment station down the corridor, her mother was standing there making herself a cup of tea. Molly waited behind her silently.
Her mother took a ridiculous amount of time squeezing every last drop of tea out of the bag and Molly wondered if she was perhaps trying to build up the courage to speak to her daughter. In the end she finished the drink and walked off without even addressing Molly.
Molly made the coffee and walked back into the office. Megan stood up as she arrived.
"What took you so long? He's here now! Give it to me." Megan took the coffee and knocked on Mr Bank's door before opening it. "I've made you a coffee sir." She said, stepping in and closing the door behind her.
Molly was used to Megan taking credit for anything Molly did and she suspected it was why Mr Banks had not yet offered her a promotion, that and he was probably distracted by his affair with Megan that he barely noticed Molly's presence.
Within two minutes of Megan entering the office Molly could hear the sounds of a desk being repeatedly banged against the wall, she immediately cast a silencing charm and then started working on her report.
She was writing a piece to be presented to Mr Banks who was planning to give it to the muggle ornithologists to explain the strange behaviour of owls at Christmas, wizards and witches seemed to think that Muggles had better things to do on Christmas Day than watch the owls but apparently they didn't.
Molly had come up with the idea of Christmas lights warming the trees that owls roosted in forcing them to fly during the day to find colder trees without twinkling lights. When Megan returned to the office at some point, Molly ignored her and continued to work on the report until lunch when Ted knocked on the office door.
"Free for lunch, Molls?" He asked, Molly nodded and stood up.
"Don't be late, we're presenting after lunch." Megan said, reapplying her make-up again.
Molly and Ted walked to the canteen and Ted filled her in on his morning of studying and helping to redecorate the children's ward. They sat down in the corner and Ted collected lunch for both of them.
"Thanks Ted." Molly said as he passed her a Chicken sandwich.
"You're welcome, now I need to ask you something."
"Fire away." She replied, biting into the sandwich.
"I'm going to ask Vic to marry me."
"Really? That's great! When?"
"I was thinking of your birthday."
"You want to wait till October? Why?" Molly's birthday was the third of October.
"Because all the family will be together for you…"
"For Lucy you mean."
"For you and Lucy, and it would be nice. Do you mind?"
"I don't, you might want to check with Lucy though, she likes the spotlight."
"I don't care what she thinks, I care what you think."
"Do it, Victoire will love it, have you picked the ring?"
"Yeah, it's my Moms, Uncle Harry gave it to me."
"Cool, well I'm sure she'll say yes."
"You think? She's been acting a bit weird lately."
"It's probably just stress, she's only just qualified, it probably takes some adjustment. She loves you." Victoire had just qualified as an Auror, only three weeks ago, and was now working with Uncle Ron.
The talked about the proposal for a few more minutes when a man with a camera and a notepad walked up to the table.
"Miss Weasley, please excuse me for interrupting." He said, looking like he really didn't care.
"What can I do for you?" Molly asked, putting down her sandwich and eyeing the camera with trepidation.
"I was just wondering if I could have your opinion on the announcement."
"What announcement?" Molly asked,
"Your father, running for re-election, surely you knew?" Molly was surprised by this, her father hadn't discussed it with her, she tried to arrange her face into an unsurprised expression.
"Oh, yeah of course. I'm very proud of him." She said.
"And how do you feel about your sister being his campaign manager?" Molly could not hide her shock with that one and Ted raised his eyebrows in surprise.
"I'm…I'm sure she'll be great." Molly said, her voice unnaturally high.
"Are you surprised that your father didn't ask you?"
"No, Lucy will be great, I've got to get back to work, excuse me please. See you later, Ted." She left the rest of her sandwich and walked out of the canteen as quickly as she could without looking like she was running off.
She turned the corner and ran smack-bang into her Aunt Hermione, knocking both of them to the floor.
"Oh, sorry Aunt Hermione." She said, standing up quickly and pulling her Aunt to her feet.
"Don't worry about it, are you alright Molly? You look upset."
"Just had a surprise…Dad and…Lucy…"
"They told you then?"
"Nope, some journalist told me. I'm sure they were going to get around to it." Molly tried to blink back tears but her Aunt saw them.
"Come on, come to the office we'll have a cup of tea." She said, Molly was going to argue but then she realised that she could only go back to the office and she wasn't in the mood for Megan, or even worse Banks.
Hermione led her to her large office and told her secretary to hold all calls and bring a tray of tea. The old witch carried in a tea tray and then left the office and shut the door. Aunt Hermione was now Deputy Head of Magical Law Enforcement, and her office was huge and contained a large red sofa which she sat on, patting the space next to her to indicate that Molly should join her. Molly sat and wiped her tears on the back of her hand.
"This is stupid, sorry Aunt Hermione." She sniffed.
"It's not stupid, Percy should have told you."
"How long have you known?"
"I found out this morning, your Mom told me, she knew last week."
"Mom knew…I saw her this morning…" More tears fell down Molly's face but they were angry tears. Why hadn't her mother warned her? She could have said something, without even alluding to the argument they were currently having.
"I'm sorry Molly, I thought you knew."
"I'm not important enough to know these things."
"That's not true, he was probably just busy this morning."
"He must have known yesterday, that was probably why he wanted Banks to give me a promotion…doesn't want the papers to find out I'm not qualified yet."
"Molly, are you happy here? At the ministry, I mean?" Hermione asked, looking serious.
"I…I don't know…No but…"
"Molly if you're not happy, find another job. Happiness is important."
"But…I'm not like you Aunt Hermione, I'm not smart, I'm not brave, I don't know who I'm supposed to be…"
"It's not about cleverness or bravery…"
"That's easy for you to say, look Aunt Hermione, I appreciate this little pep talk but at the end of the day I know my Dad would kill me if I quit, he pulled some strings to get me the job in the first place and I don't even know where else I would work."
"Maybe you should travel, find yourself."
"Yeah, I'm sure they'd love that." Molly snorted. "Look, don't worry about me. Some people are supposed to be amazing like you and Lucy and Dad but…some people aren't and I'm one of those people. Thanks for the tea, I've got a presentation this afternoon." Molly stood up and left the office before her Aunt could call her back. She walked straight to the refreshment station and made herself a cup of tea before walking into the office.
There was a beautiful vase of flowers on her desk. She set down her tea and looked for a card, assuming they were for Megan, she found a small envelope with her name on. She opened it and pulled out the business-card sized blue parchment.
The light of my darkness
Molly stared at the card for a few more seconds, mentally going through anyone she could think of that might send her flowers. Ted might but he would sign his name and she was definitely not the light in Ted's darkness, more like the dark shadow in his light. Her father had sent her flowers once when she had been ill at Hogwarts but he definitely wouldn't say that.
She looked up at the flowers, they were roses, mostly yellow but with one vivid black rose in the middle of them. Molly sat down, still holding the card and then moved the flowers to the edge of her desk.
"Nice flowers, they for me?" Asked Megan walking back into the office.
"No, me." Molly replied, looking at the card.
"You, seriously? Who from?" Megan asked in an unkind way.
"Secret admirer then, you're full of surprises Weasley." Molly didn't reply and tried to put the flowers, and the mystery sender, out of her mind as she prepared for the presentation.
At two o'clock Molly and Megan walked into Bank's office and Megan sat down as Molly moved towards the presentation board. She inserted the cartridge of images into the projector and then stood by the board and looked at Banks.
"Whenever you're ready, Miss Weasley." He said.
"Right, okay, thanks…" Molly started the presentation well and the first few images showed up fine, when she pointed her wand for the third one though the projector started smoking and then promptly exploded.
"Merlin Beard, aguamenti!" Said Banks, standing up and firing his wand at the flaming lumps of plastic, his water overshot and landed on Molly's notes, she moved them out of the way and tried to dry them with her wand but the ink had smudged.
"You'll have to carry on without it, Weasley." Said Megan, wrinkling her nose in disgust at the smell of melting plastic.
"Right…okay…" Molly tried to carry on but her confidence was shot and half her notes were missing, after fumbling through another ten minutes Banks held up his hand.
"Alright, Miss Weasley, I've heard enough. Come and sit down, Megan go back to your desk." Megan looked disappointed but followed her boss's instructions and Molly sat down next to him.
"I'm sorry sir, I wasn't expecting…" She indicated at the now dry melted projector.
"I think this project was too big for you." Banks said, with a condescending smile.
"No, honestly sir, I'm just not good at presenting, the report is really good, I've spent months on it…"
"I think we'll move you back down to Megan's assistant…"
"No, please sir, just read the report…" Molly begged, not a demotion!
"I know what I'll find, you weren't ready for this Molly, we'll review in a few months."
"Please sir, just…"
"I'm sorry Molly, go on home now, we'll see you in the morning." Molly stood up and walked out of the office in shock, she couldn't believe this. Molly grabbed her bag and was about to leave when Megan spoke.
"Don't forget your flowers!"
"Oh, yeah." Molly picked up the flowers and card and walked out of the office, her mother was at the refreshment counter, apparently lawyers needed frequent refreshing.
"Thank for the warning, Mother." She said as she passed her, her mother didn't reply and Molly was nearly at the Atrium when she bumped into another member of her family, Uncle Harry.
"Hey Molly, you're leaving early, nice flowers, did you get that promotion then?" He asked kindly, it was a reasonable assumption to make.
"No, I got demoted."
"Fucked up my presentation, seems to be the only thing I can do right."
"Screw things up, see you later, Uncle Harry." She walked over to the Floo and ignored her Uncle calling her back, she Flooed back to the flat and placed the flowers on the table before sitting on the sofa and bursting into hysterical sobs.
Why couldn't she do anything right? What was wrong with her? Why was everyone else so together, and sorted? Molly felt like a complete failure, again.
As Molly expected it was barely ten past five when there was a knock on the door, she shuffled over to it and opened it to reveal her two best friends. Ted was carrying a two bottles of wine and Victoire was carrying a bag of fish and chips.
"Heard you had a tough day?" Victoire asked, leaning over and hugging her cousin.
"Tough life more like. Uncle Harry told you then?" She asked, stepping aside to let them in.
"Yeah, what happened?" Victoire replied, as Ted kissed her on the cheek.
Molly explained about the projector and the complete failure of the presentation and they were both suitably annoyed for her.
"He wouldn't even read the report?" Victoire asked, reaching up into a cupboard and getting three glasses. Ted had got plates from the cupboard and Molly just sat at the table watching them.
"But you've spent like two months on that! He just demoted you, just like that?" Ted asked, Molly nodded.
"Just like that, I'm Megan's assistant again." Victoire passed her a glass of wine and she took a big gulp. An owl arrived on the window and she walked over to it to relieve the bird of its paper, she glanced at the headline and her face darkened. "Shit." She muttered before throwing the newspaper on the paper for Ted and Victoire to read.
Weasley running for re-election, one daughter campaign manager, the other doesn't even know!
"Looks like Dad will be here any minute now." She said putting her head on the table and just wanting to crawl into a hole and emerge after the election was over, preferably with a new identity, or a better job.
They started eating the food and then Victoire noticed the flowers.
"Who are they from? They look expensive." She said, looking over to the fireplace where Molly had put them in a vase.
"No idea, this came with them." Molly pulled out the card from her pocket and passed them over to her.
"Light of my darkness, ooh a secret admirer! Or do you know who it is?"
"No, it's probably just a joke." Molly replied, stabbing at a chip with unnecessary venom. A knock at the door sounded and Molly looked at Ted and Victoire. "If he doesn't know about the job don't mention it." She said and the both nodded.
Molly opened the door and her father was standing there holding a paper.
"Hi Dad, do you want a cup of tea?" Molly asked,
"No, I won't stop, hi Ted, Victoire."
"Hey Uncle Percy." They both replied.
"We need to talk." Her Dad said and she led him into the bedroom and closed the door.
"What? Now you want to talk. A little heads-up would have been nice, I don't like getting accosted by journalists who know more about my family than I do when I'm eating my lunch."
"It was crossed communication."
"Crossed communication Dad! You could have just popped down to see me!"
"I thought Lucy was."
"And she thought you were I get it, why didn't you check?"
"Anyway I came to talk to you. I'm going for re-election…"
"Oh, thanks Dad, I got that!" She snapped sarcastically.
"Alright, I'm sorry. Anyway you know what this means, the whole family is going to be under close scrutiny and I need you to…" Molly arched her eyebrows and her father hesitated, "…try and be the best you can be, Molly."
"Right, anything else?"
"Have you spoken to Banks?"
"Yes, we had a big meeting today."
"Excellent, so you're officially an officer? Congratulations Molly, I knew even you could manage that…No offence. You should have told me." Molly snorted. "Alright I know things have been strained because of Felix but…"
"It's not because of Grandpapa and you know it."
"Well, your mother is sorry but I think it's gone too far now."
"She's sorry, would be nice if I heard that from her."
"Molly, we need to present a solid family unit, image is everything. If I don't get this re-election then I won't be able to finish all of my projects."
"What do you need me to do? Smile and pretend that we're the perfect family?"
"We are the perfect family, we've just been through some difficult months. Everything will be fine, there's a campaign party on Friday night at the house, I need you there. Lucy will send you the details."
"Fine, anything else?"
"Fine." Molly opened the door and led her father to the door. He said farewell to Teddy and Victoire and was just about to disapparated when Molly spoke.
"I got demoted."
"What?" He said, looking shocked.
"The meeting with Banks, I got demoted."
"Molly, what did you do?" He asked, looking exasperated.
"See you Friday, I'll try not to embarrass you." She shut the door and there was a pause, a sigh and then the sound of Disapparation.
She leaned back against the door and closed her eyes.
"Come on, Molls, drink more wine." Said Victoire and Molly walked back over to the table. The rest of the meal was subdued and Molly knew that Ted and Victoire didn't know what to say to her.
"You two better be there on Friday." Molly said, glaring at them.
"I will be. Protection detail." Said Victoire, Molly looked at Ted who shook his head.
"Sorry, late shift."
"Fuck, you'll be too busy to drink with me." She said, pointing at Victoire, "And you're not even going to be there, some best friends you are!"
"I'll make sure you don't drink too much." Said Victoire with a wry smile.
"Great, I bet Dad will have me on Pumpkin juice anyway. I even had Aunt Hermione giving me a pep talk today and now I have to play nice with Mom." Molly put her head back on the table and Victoire stroked it lightly.
"Have you spoken to her yet?"
"No, well I made a sarcastic comment after I got demoted but she didn't reply. Is it so wrong that I want an apology?"
"No, it's not but…just play nice for Friday, maybe it will help if Aunt Audrey thinks you're making an effort."
There was another knock at the door and Molly walked over to it, it was Granddad.
"Hi Molly, I heard about Banks, I'm sorry." He said after she let him into the flat.
"Did Dad tell you?"
"No, Molly did, I think Harry told her. I saw the paper as well, not a great day then. I assume that's why you two are here?" He said, turning to Ted and Victoire.
"That's right Granddad, we bring food and wine and conversation." Said Victoire,
"Mostly wine though." Ted added.
Her Granddad didn't stay long and after he left Molly felt even worse and didn't finish the rest of her food, Ted and Victoire left and Molly switched on her computer and started writing.
She was working on a Muggle murder mystery, she was only a few chapters in but in her head the story was nearly finished. Just as she was going to bed another owl came to the window. Most of her family had owled her during the evening but this owl didn't look familiar.
Molly walked over to it and detached the note, it was on thick blue parchment, like the flowers card, she turned it over and read the message.
Molly looked at the writing for a few more minutes, just stared at it, trying to remember if she had seen in before, and then placed it by the flowers and went to bed.
Her dreams were not sweet, she woke several times and cried for a few minutes before dropping off again.
When she woke in the morning she was late, her alarm hadn't gone off, she only had fifteen minutes before she was due at her desk, knowing that a sickie wasn't an option she leapt out of bed and pulled on some clothes before brushing her teeth, plaiting her hair and running to the Floo.
She made it to the desk with thirty seconds to spare but Megan was already there.
"You're late, Weasley."
"I'm just on time." She replied.
"I say you're late, get my coffee." Megan looked at her with cold eyes and Molly walked to the empty refreshment station and made Megan a coffee and herself a tea, she hadn't had time to have one at the flat.
She returned to the office and placed the coffee down and then walked back to the desk sipping her scalding hot tea.
"I didn't say you could get a drink." Megan said, smiling like a serial killer.
"Well Ministry regulations do, I'll sort the mail."
"Listen Weasley, I know you must be disappointed about the demotion but think of this as more of a learning experience, it's important to do the ground work. Just because you're Daddy is the big boss and you're Mummy is a big wig down the hall, doesn't mean you're important in here, got it?"
"Yep." Molly replied, too tired to argue with her.
Banks walked in and Molly went to get him a coffee, Megan gave it to him and they had there morning 'meeting' while Molly sorted the post.
The rest of the morning was spent reading through Megan's reports to check facts and spelling. At lunchtime Lucy come to the door.
"Hey Molly, you free for lunch?" She asked, Molly was planning on eating at her desk but Megan had just started a meeting with Banks so Molly decided to see what lunch with Lucy would bring.
"Sure." She grabbed her bag and they left, Molly realised that they were not heading to the staff canteen but were in fact going to her father's office.
"Heard about yesterday." Lucy said as they entered the lift.
"Yeah, tough break."
"Yeah, it was." The lift started moving and the twins were silent until they reached the Minister's office.
"Hello, Miss Weasley, it's nice to see you up here." Said Gwen, her father's secretary who had always had a soft spot for Molly.
"Hi Gwen, how are you?"
"Very excited about the re-election, you must be too?"
"Ecstatic." Molly replied with the brightest smile she could muster. They made small talk for a few minutes and then the twins walked into their father's office.
Percy Weasley was sat on a large black sofa next to his wife, there was a large selection of sandwiches in front of them.
"Ahh Molly, glad you could make it." Said her father standing up and moving over to her, she allowed him to kiss her on the cheek and then sat down in one of the armchairs, opposite her mother.
"I'm sorry, Molly." Her mother said, quietly.
"Really? Are you really sorry or are you just trying to make peace before Friday?"
"Don't make this harder, Molly. I'm sorry I upset you, I didn't realise how much it would hurt you." Her mother looked at her and Molly was surprised to see that her mother actually did look genuine. Then again, she was a lawyer.
Molly nodded but didn't reply, Lucy clapped her hands and Molly turned to her.
"Right, now we need to talk about strategy. Obviously image is everything in politics so Molly I'm taking you shopping on Thursday night, and then we're going to the salon on Friday before the party to sort out your hair." Lucy looked excited.
"I can shop for myself thanks."
"No, we need to focus on colours, Dad wants to use black for the campaign colour but I think blue would be better, a pale blue to match our eyes."
"My eyes are brown." Molly replied,
"Yeah, but you don't have the Weasley hair so we can put you in anything and you won't clash." Molly bit back a retort with great difficulty.
"I'm also going to talk to Banks this afternoon, I'm sure we can sort this thing out." Said her father but Molly shook her head.
"When I thought you were asking me to lunch, I didn't mind, but if you're just here to point out my many flaws and failings then I think I'll…"
"Molly's right, let's just have a family meal together." Said her mother firmly, Molly looked at her in surprise and her mother gave her a weak smile.
"Fine, but I'm coming round tonight." Lucy said.
"I'm busy." Molly replied, she was, she needed to write.
The rest of the meal was actually quite pleasant, her mother told them all about her current cases and then Lucy talked about her work and Brian, and then her father filled them in about the projects he was hoping to finish. Apparently a normal family meal still involved talking about work, Molly stayed quiet.
When she returned to the desk there was another bouquet of flowers on her desk, they looked almost identical to the previous day's bunch, Molly pulled out the blue card and read it.
Hope the afternoon is better than this morning.
Molly was still staring at the card when Megan and Banks walked out of the office.
"Nice flowers, Molly, new boyfriend?" Banks asked, moving over to the bookcase and searching for a title.
"No, she's got a secret admirer, sir." Said Megan, laughing slightly.
"Really? How lovely, and my wife says 'Romance is dead'." Molly didn't trust herself to look at Banks, his wife was one of the sweetest witches Molly had ever met. She always bought him lunch if he'd forgotten it and she made baskets of muffins for the MWEC office on a monthly basis.
When she returned to the flat that evening she put the two vases of flowers next to each other, at first glance they were identical but if you looked closely you could see that on the second bunch the yellow roses surrounding the central black rose had the slightest hint of black on the petals closest to the black one, as if the black was leaking out slowly.
Molly was slightly freaked out now, three anonymous notes in two days and two bunches of flowers. Even if she was dating the sender this would be over-kill. She genuinely had no idea who they were from.
By Thursday evening when Lucy came round, she had cancelled the previous night because Brian had bought her tickets to the opera, Molly had four bouquets lined up on the window and had received seven more notes, each was signed with 'Xxx'. Molly opened the door and Lucy walked in wearing a smart dress suit and carrying a large file with Molly's name on it.
"Ooh nice flowers, who are they from?" She asked, giving her sister a polite kiss on the cheek.
"Secret admirer." Molly replied, closing the door behind her sister and locking it.
"Seriously, that's great can I use it in the campaign?"
"No, you must definitely cannot. Where are we shopping then?"
"Muggle London, I'll side-long you, you really need to take the test again." Lucy put the file down on the table and Molly gripped her sister's arm. They arrived in an alleyway off Oxford Street.
"Did you decide on a colour scheme?"
"Yeah, we're going with Blue but Dad said you can pick another colour if you want, he doesn't like us dressing the same anymore."
"Okay, how was the opera?"
"Great, Brian was so sweet, he cried when the woman died. Then we went to an amazing restaurant where you can pick your own lobster to eat."
"That's disgusting." Molly said, pulling a face.
"No my dear sister, that is fine dining." Molly snorted but didn't comment further.
By the time they returned to the flat, at nine, Molly was absolutely exhausted. They must have been to every muggle clothes shop in London and Molly finally found a dress that she liked and Lucy didn't hate.
"I just don't get why you wear red so much." Lucy said, sitting down at the table and pulling the file towards her.
"I'm the only one in the family who can wear it and not look stupid, that's enough." Molly replied before passing a cup of tea to her sister. "What's in the file?" She asked.
"Just some of the old prophet stories about you, I need to present you in the most positive light, that bloody NEWT story last week did damage." Lucy looked annoyed and opened the file. "Right Molly, you need to be straight with me."
"Everything. If Dad's going to win this then we can't have any boggarts in the wardrobe."
"Why do you assume I have…?"
"Because you're a closed book, Molls. The public don't know you so they're more likely to read false stories about you and believe them. Answer these questions honestly. Do you have a boyfriend?"
"Do you know who your secret admirer is?"
"No, I'm sure it's just a joke."
"Fine, who is your best friend?"
"Ted or Victoire."
"Not me?" Molly snorted.
"Come on Luce, you told me to be honest, am I your best friend?"
"Good point, okay, are you alright with Mom now?"
"I'm not un-right with her, she said hello this morning at the refreshment counter."
"Can't you just let it go now?"
"I'm trying but, she needs to put more effort in. Do you have any idea what it feels like to be on the outside of your own bloody family, and I'm not just talking about the four of us, I'm talking about the whole family, I feel like I'm watching the rest of you do amazing and I'm just…watching."
"Molly, not everyone can be amazing."
"Jee, thanks. I know that, I've had the pep talks, what else do you want to know?"
"Okay, do you support Dad in this re-election?"
"Of course I do. I love Dad and he's a great Minister."
"Do you support me as campaign manager?" Molly hesitated.
"If I'm telling the truth it did hurt. And I'm not saying that I would have been a better campaign manager because that's bullshit but…you could have talked to me about it." Lucy nodded.
"I'm sorry. There's no excuse."
"No, there isn't."
"But we need to move forwards, we've got five months before elections and I will make sure Dad wins."
"I know you will."
"Yeah Lucy, you don't know how to fail." Lucy looked quite touched and Molly gave her a shaky smile.
The next five months were going to be utter hell.
On Friday evening Molly arrived at her parents' house early but it was already heaving. The red floor-length fitted dress looked good on her and that helped her confidence. Molly knew she wasn't unattractive. She had a good figure but she wasn't as toned as Lucy was. Lucy was a gym addict and Molly had no desire to set foot in one, ever.
"Hey Molls, you look lovely." Said Uncle Harry walking over to her, he was wearing black dress robes with a blue campaign pin and he kissed her on the cheek.
"Hi Uncle Harry, off-duty then?"
"Well, I'm not on-duty but…" He tailed off and Molly laughed. They moved into the large dining room and Molly went to greet Victoire who looked very grown up in her Auror robes, they didn't talk long because Molly didn't want Victoire to get into trouble.
Molly found a seat in the living room and looked around at all the guests, many had yet to arrive but Kingsley Shacklebolt was already there, in serious discussions with Percy and Audrey, and Lucy and Brian were laughing with Brian's father, a high-level Unspeakable.
"There's my favourite niece." Came a familiar voice from behind Molly, she turned and her face broke into a wide grin.
"Uncle Charlie!" She said, jumping up and running around to hug him, "I didn't know you were coming!"
"And miss my little brother's re-election campaign, not a chance." Molly quirked an eyebrow at him.
"Well, Mom wanted me home for a few days and I was running out of food so…" Molly laughed and hugged him again. Uncle Charlie was by far her favourite Uncle, he just seemed to understand her.
"Heard you had a rough week?" He said as they sat down on the sofa.
"Yeah, anyway how are you?" She asked, trying not to dwell on the disaster that was her life.
"Good, yeah should be moving back here by Christmas."
"Really? You're leaving Romania? That's amazing! Why?"
"Post opened in the Welsh reserve and I'm getting a bit too old for the fiercer dragons, it's a young man's game."
"Where are you going to live?"
"The Burrow till I find my own place, how's your flat?"
"Great, I love having my own space." They talked for a few more minutes than the younger cousins came round all wanting to hear stories. Molly stood up and moved away. Only Molly, Lucy, Ted, Victoire and Dominique had graduated Hogwarts, the rest were still there or about the start (in Hugo and Lily's case).
Molly walked over to the bar and grabbed a glass of pumpkin juice from the waiter.
"Hey Molly, you look great!" Said Brian, calling her over, she smiled and walked over to him.
"Thanks Brian, how are you?"
"Good thanks, Lucy's in her element."
"She's always in her element at stuff like this."
"Yeah, true." He laughed. Molly looked around to see if her grandparents had arrived and then turned back to Brian.
"So, how's work?" She asked, Brian worked for the Daily Prophet.
"Good thanks, going to be quite election-related now but I'll try and warn you if there are any stories about you."
"Thanks, I'd appreciate that, I'll see you later." Molly noticed her grandparents and walked over to meet them.
"Hello Molly dear, how are you?" Her Grandma asked, pulling her into a hug, her Grandfather held her glass so she didn't spill any.
"I'm fine thanks, how are you?" She asked when she had pulled away and hugged her Grandfather.
"Marvellous, so proud of Percy for running again."
"I know, it's great." Replied Molly with a slightly strained smile, she took a large swig of Pumpkin juice wishing it was Firewhisky and then moved away to let her Grandparents mingle.
At seven o'clock precisely Lucy gathered everyone in the dining room where a small stage had been set up and made Molly stand next to her mother and smile in pride as her father made his speech.
Molly listened carefully whilst feeling quite light-headed, she probably should have eaten before she came, knowing how long her father's speeches could go on for, she had already spotted her Uncle Ron yawning in the crowd.
She tried to follow her father's words but they all seemed to merge together and the room seemed to spin slightly.
"Mom, I don't feel well." She whispered to her mother.
"Just listen to the speech Molly, then you can go home if you want." Her mother whispered back before looking at her daughters face causing her smile to falter. "For Merlin's sake Molly, don't you dare faint."
Molly managed to listen for a few more minutes but her face must have been sickly because people in the crowd started to point and whisper and eventually her father turned around to her.
"Oh, Molly, do you need to lie down?" He asked, looking surprised by her pallor.
"Yeah, I'm not feeling very well, sorry." Her sister tutted loudly and moved to help her Molly off the stage, they had walked a few steps when Molly's heel (which Lucy insisted she wore) snapped and she fell side-ways off the stage, straight into Kingsley Shacklebolt's lap.
Molly heard the crowd gasp and someone call her name and then everything went dark.
When Molly woke up she was in her childhood bedroom and it was dark outside, she looked at the clock and saw that it was half-ten. She still felt ill, hung-over almost, but she climbed out of the bed and opened the bedroom door.
She could hear gentle voices downstairs and she guessed that they were her family and that the party was over, she walked to the balcony and was relieved to see that only her parents, sister, grandparents and Uncle Charlie were remaining.
Molly walked down the stairs and her sister turned to her, looking furious.
"So, she's awake! Cheers for that Molly- now the only thing people will remember is that you got drunk!" She yelled, standing up and moving over to Molly.
"I wasn't drunk!" Molly replied,
"Molly you fell off the stage…" Her father began in a strained voice,
"Yeah and my ankle bloody hurts, thanks for asking. I wasn't drunk."
"Are you feeling alright now, dear?" Her grandmother asked, standing up and summoning her coat from the hat-stand.
"Better, my head feels a bit fuzzy."
"Sounds like a hang-over to me, Molly." Her mother said, sipping on a glass of wine.
"I wasn't drunk, I only had pumpkin juice!"
"To be fair Perce, I only saw her with juice, and she wasn't acting drunk." Uncle Charlie said and Molly felt relieved that he was there.
"She could have put whisky it in, Uncle Charlie. Do you have any idea the damage you've done to the campaign? The papers are going to have a bloody field-day!" Lucy yelled.
"I wasn't drunk, I'm going home. Have fun playing happy-fucking-families, I'll just return to my pathetic life and you can all pretend I don't exist." Molly walked over to the fireplace and Floo-ed home before anyone could stop her.
When she arrived her ankle was throbbing and she still felt sick, she walked over to a bedroom but the squawk of an owl stopped her and she walked to the window. The parchment was blue, she detached it and read.
You still look beautiful, even falling off a stage
So whoever it was that was writing the notes had been at the party. Molly put the note with the others in a shoebox by the flowers and looked at the five bouquets, the black had spread slightly but not enough to make the yellow roses look black, just enough to be noticeable as there for a purpose.
On Saturday morning she woke up with what did feel like a hang-over, perhaps she was coming down with something? Her ankle was throbbing and bruised so she decided to owl Ted to see if he could come and fix it.
She spent the morning writing and managed to make some decent headway with one of the characters, a knock on the door disturbed her creative flow and she stood up to open it.
There was a young man carrying a bouquet of flowers.
"Molly Weasley?" He asked,
"Please sign here." He thrust a clipboard at her and she signed her name.
"Who are they from?" She asked as he passed her the flowers.
"Don't know Mam, I just deliver, have a nice day." He walked away and Molly looked at the flowers, the yellow roses nearest the black one now had one completely black petal.
"Hey!" Came a loud male voice, Molly jumped but then saw it was Ted.
"Merlin Ted, you scared the bloody life out of me!"
"Oh, sorry, I walked from the hospital, I'm on lunch break. More flowers?" Molly nodded and he walked into the flat and looked at the flowers already on the mantelpiece.
"Thanks for coming, Ted." She said, putting the new flowers with the old one.
"You don't know who they're from?"
"No and it's starting to freak me out." She replied, looking at the box containing the notes, she wouldn't mention that.
"Oh well, I'm sure it will all become clear. Anyway let's look at this ankle, Victoire told me what happened."
"I don't understand it Ted. I feel hung-over but I only drank Pumpkin juice!" She said, sitting on the sofa and pulling off her slipper and sock to show Ted the swollen and bruised left ankle.
"You might be coming down with something."
"Yeah, that's what I thought." Molly sighed.
"Anyway, it's just sprained, taken these potions and keep it wrapped up in this bandage till tomorrow." He conjured a blue bandage and passed Molly the potions.
"Thanks Ted, you and Victoire doing anything tonight? We could see a movie?"
"Sorry, Victoire's working and I'm going to Uncle Harry's, Lily's last night and all."
"Oh, of course, wish her luck from me. She worried?"
"Lily? Nah, course not. Hugo is though."
"I know, he wants to write to me."
"He's like you, you know? More than the rest of the family."
"Yeah I know, I'm hoping he's a Hufflepuff." Ted smiled and then hugged his best friend.
"You'll be fine, Molly. Everyone loves you, you just need to…find yourself."
"No Ted, I need to find someone else, I don't fit in and you know it. I thought Lucy was going to kill me last night, they all thought I was drunk, except Uncle Charlie."
"Heard he's moving back."
"Yep, can't bloody wait."
"Well, I've got to get back to work, see you tomorrow at the Burrow?"
"I think I'll give it a miss, can't handle the agro, I haven't even opened the paper yet."
"I have, the got a good shot of your head in Shacklebolt's lap."
"Fuck, in that case I'm definitely not going, can you tell them I've got a bug?"
"Course, rest that ankle and I'll see you in the week."
Ted left and Molly looked back at the flowers. Did she really have a secret admirer or was it just some sick joke?
A/N Welcome to my new story (well one of them anyway), if any of you are confused this does NOT take place in the 'Words' Universe so Eliza has never existed and everyone who was supposed to die in the books did. It was ridiculously hard to write without Eliza but thankfully I've got another Words story coming out soon.
So let me know what you think of this story. Do you like Molly? Who do you think the flowers and notes are from? What do you think of Percy and Audrey?
This story will be updated monthly (hence why this chapter is called 'August' and it's August! See what I did there?), so the next one should be up in the middle of September.