|SIYE Time:21:57 on 17th October 2017|
The Secret Lives of Weasleys
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Category: SIYE Challenges, The Burrow Secret Challenge (2016-3)
Genres: Drama, General, Tragedy
Story is Complete
Summary: Challenge entry! Arthur Weasley has raised 7 children, he knows when he's not getting the truth.
Hitcount: Story Total: 1730
Disclaimer: Harry Potter Publishing Rights © J.K.R. Note the opinions in this story are my own and in no way represent the owners of this site. This story subject to copyright law under transformative use. No compensation is made for this work.
A secret in the Burrow! What a fun challenge! What hijinks and fun could people get up to? Well, they'll be getting up to them in another fic. This story joins the Weasleys a few weeks after the war as they try and pick up their lives and learn to live without Fred.
It was a strange time in the Wizarding world. The initial elation over the defeat of Voldemort had subsided, many families were still broken and grieving. Funerals had been held, and everyone was trying to find some form of normality, to make sense of the chaos Voldemort had wrought.
Everyone was in a strange holding pattern; school wouldn't open until September, and the war trials were scheduled to start in October. People weren't entirely sure who to blame for what yet, but they held their loved ones close. But the overwhelming feeling among British Wizards was one of hope, that their future could be brighter, that they had learned from the mistakes of the past, that a third generation wouldn't suffer as they had.
Mr and Mrs Weasley counted themselves lucky in some ways. They had been active in the resistance as had their children, a daughter in law and Harry Potter - their unofficial son, as well as many close friends. It was almost inevitable that they would suffer losses. But nothing prepared them for the reality of losing Fred.
They'd known loss before - they'd lost friends and family members during the first Wizarding War and in the lead up to this war, Molly had lost both of her brothers in the first war, but Fred was different. Fred was always the one who'd made them laugh, who'd helped come up with mad schemes. Fred was a point of light when it was most needed. Without him, the house felt too quiet. Especially as George - his partner in crime was completely lost without his twin, it almost felt like they'd lost both twins during the Battle of Hogwarts.
But time moves on and soon weeks had gone by. People picked up the strands of their lives again. Arthur wondered at times if they'd ever really recover from this loss and watched each member of his family closely. It was hard for him to think that all of his children were adults but he had to admit that there was no way that even Ginny, his only daughter, his baby, could be considered a child.
As he watched, he saw how each of his family coped with their loss. Bill took his role as oldest seriously. He made sure his younger siblings were more or less ok. He and his wife Fleur supported each other and the family he worked hard to fix what he could both at home and at work. Fleur was a godsend, she had the knack of being able to fill the awkward silences in a way that didn't feel forced, she helped them talk about things, about Fred.
Charlie was restless. He was used to a physically demanding job and couldn't stand sitting around, drinking tea with the endless stream of visitors. He spent a lot of his time helping with the repair effort, helping various friends and acquaintances repair their homes, even helping at Hogwarts which was badly damaged in the final battle. He also helped distract his younger siblings by organising Quidditch matches. Arthur knew that he wouldn’t talk about his feelings of loss but would throw himself into work instead and that he’d be back in Romania as soon as he possibly could.
Percy had made himself indispensable helping around The Burrow, running errands, helping tidy up Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes for reopening, doing anything that needed doing. It seemed as though he was trying to make amends for leaving his family three years earlier. Percy had negotiated a new role at the Ministry and was also busy providing as much information to investigators about the previous regime. When he'd realised that he was very much on the wrong side of things he had started taking meticulous notes, which were proving to be very useful.
Ron was the one who most surprised Arthur. He had grown up a lot in the past year and was a tremendous help to everyone. The role he'd played in the war and his heroism was a point of pride for the family. As well as helping his parents and George, Ron was mainly focused on Hermione and getting her parents back from Australia. Harry, Ron and Hermione had spoken with Kingsley and plans were made for the three of them and Ginny to visit Australia. Ron and Hermione were a great support for each other. They were getting used to their new relationship status and finding their feet as a couple rather than friends, much to the delight and relief of those who knew and cared about them.
Ginny and Harry had each other, they spoke at length about their experiences over the nine months they were apart, and Ginny helped Harry open up about his life and begin to move on from the guilt that threatened to overwhelm him. Together they untangled the damage that Voldemort had wrought on both of their young lives. Arthur had always wondered what his reaction would be when his little girl fell in love; Arthur was happy to see her happy and in love with a decent young wizard, who obviously adored her and would take good care of her. The fact that he was the hero of the wizarding world, and they'd never have to worry about money as he and Molly had was a nice bonus.
Harry, Ron and Hermione had told the family what their mission had been and what had happened to them while they’d been away. Ginny also finally admitted exactly how bad Hogwarts had been during the same time. It made him sick to think of what they’d gone through and that he’d not been able to protect them from it. He could see that what they’d all been through still haunted them and that would take time to overcome.
This just left the one that everyone was most worried about - George. Initially, George, spoke if spoken to, ate if presented with food and spent a lot of time staring into space or by himself in his old room, the light was gone from his eyes and no one had heard him laugh let alone make a joke.
As the numbers in The Burrow dwindled and as the pain of losing Fred went from a raw stabbing pain to a dull but constant ache, as the kids went back to their own homes, Arthur noticed a few things.
Firstly, while Molly was sad, she was coping much better than he'd expected. Yes, she was baking enough to feed the local village, and she wasn't sleeping well, but she wasn't constantly on the edge of tears, and she'd started talking about Fred. It concerned him slightly he wasn't sure if she was genuinely coping or she was going to break down one day. Molly was a strong woman but losing a child could break even the strongest women, and he knew it broke her heart every day to see George struggling as much as he was.
Molly was spending quite a bit of time with Andromeda Tonks which seemed to be helping; they had a standing arrangement for Molly to go over there on Tuesdays and Thursdays. As Andromeda had lost her daughter, son in law and husband during the war, it was nice they both had someone to talk to. The combination of a fellow tormented soul, and Teddy's sunny character was good for Molly.
The second was that while George was still a shell of who he once was, there were subtle but noticeable changes. He'd started to speak about reopening the store, he accepted the odd invitation to go out with friends, discussed maybe moving back to the flat above the shop eventually. He was still short tempered at times, and would still leave the room without warning, and he rarely smiled let alone laughed, but he was slowly re-joining the world.
However, Arthur noticed he would also disappear for several hours at a time and was very vague about where he'd been. Arthur didn't want to push him, George was after all an adult and was no longer used to having to report his coming and goings to his parents. But he always came back with the smell of alcohol on his breath and he always seemed cagey about where he'd been. Arthur kept an eye on him - he didn't appear to be drinking excessively, but Arthur had seen other wizards try and fill the gap left by a loved one with alcohol. He made up his mind to speak to Bill about it, the more eyes on the situation, the better, George may open up to his older brother in a way he wouldn't to his Dad.
Arthur arrived at the Shell Cottage one sunny Saturday morning and was greeted by his daughter in law Fleur.
"Sorry to intrude on your Saturday morning Fleur, but I was hoping to have a bit of a chat to Bill."
"Of course! I 'ave just made coffee would you like some?"
"That would be lovely thanks."
"Bill is on ze patio."
Arthur made his way through the kitchen to the patio area where his oldest son was sitting at the small outdoor table.
"Dad! Is everything alright?" Bill asked.
It would be a while before people stopped thinking the worst when someone turned up unexpectedly.
"Everything's fine, no cause for alarm."
Bill relaxed. Fleur joined the two men in the patio with a tray of coffees and pastries.
"Thank you, Fleur."
"So, did you fancy some sea air or was there something you wanted to talk about?" Bill asked.
"There was something; it's about George. Now, he's doing alright all things considered, but he does go off for a few hours at a time a couple of times a week and is very evasive about where he's going. He always comes back smelling of alcohol and some of the time it's fairly early in the day. He's not roaring drunk, and I've certainly seen both of you in worse states, but I'm just worried it's becoming a habit. The fact that he seems to be drinking to get him through the day worries more than if he was getting roaring drunk."
"So what would you like me to do?" Bill asked.
"Nothing at this stage, just keep an eye out. I'm not too worried yet, but I know that there is a temptation to drown your sorrows, especially with what he's been through. I think if it does get to the point where someone needs to say something he might take more notice of you."
"Of course. I've been to out with him a couple of times since the battle, and he doesn't seem to be drinking a lot more than usual, but if it's day drinking we're talking about that's another story. It’s not every day is it?”
“No, but it seems to be more than once a week.”
“Don't worry I'll keep an eye on him too."
They moved on to other topics - the repairs at Gringotts, news of the rest of the family and the changes at the Ministry.
The following Tuesday Arthur had a rare half day off, he'd been working long hours and had just finished a major report on proposed changes in Magical/Muggle relations for Kingsley, who insisted Arthur take the rest of the day off.
Arthur arrived back at The Burrow to find it empty. His youngest two had left with Harry and Hermione for Australia the day before; George would be at the shop preparing for its reopening in August, and he knew Molly typically went and visited Andromeda at this time on a Tuesday. Happy to have a rare moment alone, made his way out to the shed and started looking at the parts of Sirius Black's bike which he wanted to fix for Harry.
After working happily for an hour or so, Arthur heard a pop followed by a female voice calling out a greeting. Wiping his hands on an old rag, he went out to see who their visitor was and was surprised to find Andromeda Tonks standing on the doorstep with Teddy.
"Andromeda! We weren't expecting you. Isn't Molly with you?"
"Molly? No, I haven't seen her for a couple of weeks. Ginny and Harry bought some food over when they came to say goodbye to Teddy before they left, I was running a few errands and thought I'd pop by and return her dish."
Arthur went cold, what could this possibly mean. Why would Molly lie to him? It wasn't like her.
"Though I seem to have caught you at a bad time."
"No, not at all! Can I get you a cup of tea?" Arthur asked. Poor Andromeda looked exhausted; she seemed to have aged ten years in a matter of months.
"Thank you that would be lovely."
Andromeda and Teddy stayed for about half an hour. Arthur resisted the urge to interrogate Andromeda about every time she'd seen Molly recently. He did find out that Harry was taking his role as godfather very seriously, and he and Ginny were frequent visitors, but Molly had been by a few times it certainly wasn't anywhere near twice weekly.
Molly and Arthur had been married for close to thirty years and as far as he knew she'd never kept a secret from him. She certainly had never lied for weeks on end. There'd been the odd thing they may not have been entirely honest about, like his intentions for the old car he'd bought, but they both considered honesty and openness to be at the heart of their long marriage.
He knew there must be a reason, but he couldn't think what it would be. He wasn't a jealous man; he also didn't think that Molly had the emotional energy to carry on an affair at this point in their lives, but why was she lying to him?
Arthur put the dish Andromeda had returned away and went back to his shed. He tinkered with the motorbike in a half-hearted way.
Where on earth could Molly be? The question went around and around in Arthur's mind as he struggled for a rational explanation. He tried to focus on his work but between dropping tools and realising that he'd spent 10 minutes turning a screw the wrong way he was too preoccupied to make much headway.
Where was Molly, where could she possibly go that she wouldn't tell Arthur? The kids always had various things they were trying to keep from them, but then kids always hid things from their parents. Fred and George managed to set up a successful business with premises before he and Molly knew anything about the venture. But all of this was different. Both Molly and George were going off places by themselves. Although the war was over no one felt completely safe yet; there were still Death Eaters on the loose, and everyone remembered the awful attack on Alice and Frank Longbottom after the first war. Two vulnerable people should not be out on their own like that especially when their names and hair marked them as being among Harry Potter's closest supporters.
Eventually, Arthur heard Molly arrive home, surprised to find Arthur in his workshop and pleased Kingsley had recognised all of Arthur's efforts. Arthur hadn't figured out what to say to her, how did he raise the topic in a way that would encourage her to talk rather than sounding like an accusation? He never claimed to be a relationship expert but he was an expert on Molly and starting out with accusations would never get her to talk. He decided to sit on the information for a while longer, and he continued to dwell on the mystery over a long sleepless night and the next day.
The next evening after dinner Molly, Arthur and George were in the lounge listening to the Wizarding Wireless service.
"Will you be home for dinner tomorrow night George?" Molly asked.
"Don't know, maybe. I've got a thing in the afternoon. Not sure how long it'll be for."
"Well, Arthur, I'm afraid you'll have to fend for yourself tomorrow night."
"Why where will you be?"
"I'll be visiting Andromeda and Teddy. It's Thursday."
"Right, right. So George will be in a place, doing a thing and you'll be at Andromeda's will you?" Arthur demanded angrily.
Molly and George were stunned. They looked at each other then back at Arthur.
"Dad, what's wrong with me going out or Mum visiting a friend?" George asked utterly confused; Arthur had never been the strict disciplinarian of the house, and he certainly wasn't quick to anger.
"It's just that we apparently live in a family where no one tells each other anything anymore. Didn't we just fight a war where one of the first victims was the truth? I apparently missed the notice where it was alright to lie to your family. I expect lies from the Daily Profit but not from my family!"
"Huh? Dad, it's no big deal, I can stay home."
"That's not what I mean! I don't mind where you go, but I won't be lied to in my own house by my own family! I'm going for a walk."
And with that Arthur stormed out of the house slamming the door behind him.
George and Molly sat in stunned silence for a minute.
"What the bloody hell was that about? I've never seen Dad that wound up? I can't just be because I said I'm going out. What was all that about lying?"
"Oh dear." Molly began quietly. "I think I may know. I think I owe you father an apology."
"Really? What are you lying about?"
"We'll discuss that when your father gets back. He's right it's silly to keep secrets like this, especially after all that we’ve gone through. But I do know he's worried about you too. You've been very cagey about where you go and when you come back from where ever it is you always smell like you've had a few firewhiskies - regardless of what time of day it is. He's worried it might be becoming a habit."
"Really? He noticed that?"
Molly smiled tenderly at her poor broken son, tears welling in her eyes.
"George dear, you must know that we've all be watching you closely. We're all desperately worried about you. Of course, we're all suffering, but we know it's so much worse for you. We want to help, but I don't think anyone really knows how."
"I know. And I'm not drowning my sorrows every day or anything. I can't say there haven't been times when I've tried to forget it all, but nothing makes me forget. The minute I see my reflection, he's there. If I think of a joke I wonder why he hasn't said it already, I start talking and keep waiting for him to come in and finish off my sentence. I just need to find a way of being sort of ok with it, to stop thinking I see him out of the corner of my eye. I'm not sure how to be just George rather than half of Fred and George. But I'm trying, I really am."
"We all are love," Molly got out of her chair walked over to where George was sitting and pulled him out of his chair and into a hug. "Don't ever think we'll forget him. I know you've been angry at Ginny and Ron at times for starting their relationships while this is going on, but Harry and Hermione are part of how they're coping. And Ginny and Ron are helping Harry and Hermione cope – you know Harry blames himself for all those deaths, and he’s lost so many people over the years, and Hermione was tortured by that Bellatrix woman. We won’t ever forget but we do need to live, or else what did he die for? One thing Fred always loved was seeing people laughing; he wanted people to be happy. Isn’t that why the two of you opened the joke shop?"
"I know Mum," George said thickly, he usually saved his tears for when he was alone. "I am trying, truly, just give me time. I'll talk to you and Dad when he gets home, tell you what I've been up to."
"You don't have to."
"I know, but I don't want you and Dad worrying over nothing. You've got enough to worry about. I've been focusing on the fact that I've lost my twin, but you've lost a son, the ministry is still a mess, and your young and impressionable only daughter is off gallivanting around the world with the Hero of the Wizarding World."
"I don't think Ginny would like to hear you call her young and impressionable."
"That's why I'm saying it when she's on the other side of the world. How about I put the kettle on so we can have a cup of tea when Dad gets back."
"That would be lovely dear. Bring out some of those biscuits I made earlier too."
Half an hour later Arthur Weasley returned home, much calmer than he'd been before he'd left.
"Oh, good you're back love. We've just made some tea, George, and I would like to talk to you about a few things."
"Alright," Arthur agreed wearily, taking a seat in his favourite chair and pouring himself a cup of tea.
"Arthur, I need to apologise to you. We've been married a long time now, and we've never kept secrets from each other, nothing serious anyway. But you're right; I have been keeping something from you. I haven't been visiting Andromeda. On Tuesdays, I've been seeing a counsellor and on Thursdays, I've been going to a support group for mothers who lost children during the war."
"What?" George asked. "You've been seeing a therapist? Weird. That's where I've been too."
"You have? That's why you've seemed better lately!" Molly exclaimed.
"Yeah, it helps, but it's also draining. It's hard sitting for an hour talking about Fred and how to have a life without him. But it's also good, talking about him with someone who's not missing him too or worried about upsetting me."
"So let me see if I've got this right." Arthur began. "Both of you have decided that you need to talk to someone about how your feeling, a professional healer who's trained in this sort of thing, and you didn't want me to know?"
"Well, you're so practical, dear," Molly said smiling at her husband. "And we're not... we've never been a ..."
"Airy fairy, touchy-feely, share your feelings, tell everyone you love them, let's have a group hug kind of family," George finished for her. "I mean I love you all, even Percy, and I know you all love me, and I don't need anyone to tell me that while hold hands and sing songs but we just don't really share like that. I didn't know if you'd think it was the right way to handle things or not."
"Well, I'll tell you what I think the right way to handle things. If you need help, you ask for it. I'm not an expert on grieving, but I know there isn't a right or a wrong way to do it. If this helps you, then it's the right thing to do. To my way of thinking, you both did exactly the right thing - you had a problem so you went to the best person to help with it. Is it helping?"
"Yes, it is," Molly replied. "Oh the counsellor I see on a Tuesday is wonderful and has really helped me. And talking to other women who've lost their children too and hearing how they're doing, makes me feel that however I'm feeling is ok, if it's guilty or angry or sad - it's all normal."
"Yeah, it's kinda the same for me. Mum said you were worried about me drinking. It's just that after talking about all this deep, in depth stuff for an hour I need a bit of time by myself before I can be with other people again, even you lot. So I go to a pub and have a couple of drinks while I go through it all."
"Just one thing Arthur, what made you think I was lying?"
"Andromeda and Teddy stopped by yesterday when you were supposed to be at her place; she returned a dish of yours from some food you'd sent with Harry and Ginny."
"Oh, Arthur! No wonder you were so cross, you've had a whole day to dwell on it."
"Yes, well that doesn't matter now, everything is out in the open. Do you think your mother's group might help Andromeda? Even I could see she's having a hard time of it."
"I did suggest that but who would look after Teddy? Especially now that Harry's away."
"Well, I could. He's a lovely wee chap, and I have had a bit of experience with babies you know?"
Molly and George both laughed.
"It's settled, I'll make sure I'm home on time on Thursdays so I can look after Teddy, and you and Andromeda can go to your group.."
"I'll go and talk to Andromeda tomorrow. Thank you, Arthur, it was silly of me to think you wouldn't understand; I'm sorry for lying to you. You’re right lying isn't what this family's about."
"Yeah Dad, I'm sorry if I worried you. I know you've got enough going on without worrying about me."
"I'll still worry about you George; I'm your Dad it's my job to worry. I worry about how this war has affected all of us. But at least I'm not worried about you sitting in some dingy pub drowning your sorrows."
At that moment a tired looking owl arrived with a letter from Ron letting his parents know they'd arrived safely in Australia this moved the conversation on to happier subjects.
From then on, while the Weasleys would never be an airy-fairy, touchy-feely tell everyone you love them type of family, they were a little more open with each other.
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