The Love of Family
When Molly Weasley had received the letter that morning, she had felt her heart break. She had been getting ready for another day around the house, while her husband Arthur had been preparing for work. But that letter, which looked innocent enough on the outside, had turned their world upside down.
The boy, the sweet little boy who had asked her so politely how to get onto Platform Nine and Three-quarters, who had been, to her great shock, Harry Potter ... was gone. He had died last night at the school, after a heroic rescue attempt of the Philosopher's Stone. Molly wept for him no child should have their life ripped away from them like that. At least he hadn't been alone, she told herself. Albus was with him. He'd succeeded in saving the stone, only to die hours later from a raging fever caused by magical exhaustion.
But what completely broke her, what caused her to be inconsolable, was that her youngest son had been involved too. She knew that Ron had always wanted to be a hero, and through all these years, a voice in the back of her mind nagged at her to watch her Ronnie a little closer. Because she had so many children, it could be very difficult to watch each and every one of them with the same level of care. And she realized now that Ron had slipped from her grasp, that she hadn't been there for him like she had the others. How many times had it been, she reflected, that Ron had complained that she didn't remember certain things about him? She realized now that he was absolutely right.
And now Ron had lost his best friend. Molly could have been furious that Harry Potter had gotten him involved in all this, but she wasn't; she just felt sadness. Right now, Ron was experiencing one of the worst things a person could go through. And he was only twelve for Merlin's sake.
So she had come to a decision, along with Arthur. Both of them were coming to Hogwarts to be with Ron. Arthur had already flooed the Ministry to tell them he wouldn't be in today. His youngest son was much, much more important than any job.
There was one more issue they had to deal with: Ginny was still at home. She would not be starting Hogwarts until this September, so this left her parents wondering what to do with her. She had begged to come to Hogwarts with them, but they had told her no; seeing Ron right now would be very upsetting, and they had a feeling that he would only want to see his parents anyway. Ginny had begged and pleaded, sobbing that she wanted to be near him, but Arthur had finally made her understand that this wasn't at all the right time.
Molly had ended up flooing Xenophilius Lovegood, who had immediately agreed to take Ginny for as long as he needed to. Ginny was friends with Luna, after all. Reluctantly, Ginny had followed her through the fireplace to her house.
After Molly returned, she and Arthur got ready, and they promptly left their house. They Apparated as close to Hogwarts as they could get, and then they walked the rest of the way. Both were silent, reflecting on the tragedy that had befallen their youngest son. Molly held tightly onto Arthur's hand as her heart filled with love and worry for her Ronnie.
Before they knew it, they were through the gate, and on Hogwarts grounds. They knew Albus was already gone; he had been taken to the Ministry for questioning. All they could feel about this was a whirl of confusion; they had always believed in Dumbledore. Now that this had happened, though, and their youngest son was involved, they didn't know what to think.
They walked into the entrance hall, and all the way to the hospital wing. Pushing the doors open, Molly led Arthur inside, dreading what she would see.
Madame Poppy Pomfrey was in her office, and she looked up as soon as she saw them walk by. "Molly? Arthur?" she called softly.
"Hello, Poppy," Arthur said, gazing at the exhausted woman. "How ... how is our son?"
Poppy looked at the two parents, her expression one of sadness. "He's not doing well," she admitted quietly. "You know he received a concussion, right?"
"Yes, we know," Arthur replied. "But the letter we received said it was healing nicely."
"Yes, that is true," Poppy said. "But his emotional state is ... well, you can guess. Percy was in here several minutes ago, and convinced him to take a sleeping potion. You will not be able to talk to him for several hours he is sleeping deeply." At the looks on their faces, she went on, "You can still sit with him, if you'd like."
Molly smiled gratefully at her, her eyes filling with tears. "We will do that," she said. "Which bed is he in?"
So Poppy stepped out of her office and showed them exactly where their son was lying. Parting the curtains, Molly and Arthur's hearts broke again when they saw him. He looked so fragile in the bed, his eyes closed and his breathing deep and even. Poppy conjured two chairs by his bedside, and they both sat down.
And for hours, that was where they remained. Periodically, Molly would take his hand, stroke his arm, or speak quietly to him, even though she knew he was beyond hearing at the moment. Arthur simply gazed upon his youngest son, wondering again and again how things could have come to this.
Poppy had checked on them every now and then, asking the two Weasleys whether they needed anything to eat. Both had refused, though; they didn't want to take their eyes off Ron, not even for a single moment.
Finally, at about five in the afternoon, Ron's eyes slowly began to flutter. Molly and Arthur leaned forward, knowing this was the moment they had been waiting for, yet dreading at the same time.
Ron's eyes slowly opened, and the first thing he saw was his parents. He stretched and rolled over, looking them up and down.
"Mum?" he said softly. "Dad? What are you ... what are you doing here?"
But it was seconds after he'd said this that memories began to come back to him. Molly and Arthur knew the exact moment he remembered everything, because his face drained of all color, his expression turning to one of complete and utter devastation.
Molly immediately put her arms around her son, whose whole body began to tremble. "Oh, Ronnie," she whispered, her eyes filling for what felt like the millionth time that day. "Oh, Ronnie, baby, I'm so sorry."
Arthur reached out and took Ron's hand. "We're here now, Ron," he said gruffly. "We're here, and we're not going anywhere."
And at that moment, Ron started to sob. Molly could have sworn her heart completely shattered Ron hardly ever cried. If his brothers teased him, or something happened which upset him, anger was the normal response. But this was different Ron was lying in Molly's arms, weeping. "Harry," he moaned in between sobs. "Harry."
"I know, baby. I know." Molly crooned to him, holding him tightly while Arthur still held his hand. What else could she possibly say? She couldn't tell him that everything was going to be okay, because it wasn't. She couldn't tell him that it was only a nightmare, because it wasn't. All she could do was hold him as he wept for his lost friend.
After what seemed like an eternity, Ron's sobs finally slowed to hiccups. He looked at his parents with swollen eyes and said in a tiny, broken voice, "I never got to say goodbye."
"I know, son." Arthur said softly, squeezing Ron's hand in comfort. "But nobody did. Not even Albus, who was with him at the end, got to say goodbye to him properly. He was very sick, Ron. He was unconscious, and couldn't talk to anyone. But at least he wasn't in any pain."
Ron looked at his parents with tortured blue eyes. "I know," he sniffled. "I know. But I hope he knew ... I hope he knew I cared about him. Me, Hermione, Fred and George, ..."
"He knew, sweetie," Molly whispered. "Of course he did. You showed him happiness and friendship. Of course he knew you cared."
She and Arthur exchanged a look, both agreeing upon the fact that now was not the right time to ask Ron why he had put himself in physical danger the night before. They knew that conversation would have to come, but not now, not today. Right now, Ron needed them to comfort him, to hold him, just to be there for him.
Ron slowly nodded, then rested his head back on Molly's shoulder. "Don't leave me," he whispered. "Please stay."
"We're not going anywhere," Arthur reassured him. "We'll stay with you as long as you need us. And we'll ask everyone else to stay away. Fred, George, and Percy have been by to visit you while you were sleeping, but your mum and I told them to leave you be, and we'll continue to for as long as you want."
Ron let out a long, shuddering breath. "Thanks," he said softly.
"Anything for you, Ron." Molly said as she continued to hold her child close.
And it was then, as seconds of silence lengthened into minutes, that she made a promise to herself that she would be there for Ron, no matter what happened. She would never let her youngest son escape her notice again. It was now time to be the mother she could now freely admit to herself that she had never been.
And she planned to keep that promise, with all her heart.