Has there ever been a woman with as much fire in her heart as Molly Weasley?
Has there ever been a woman who would fight so hard, and for so long? Has there ever been a woman with more courage?
Imagine being young and in love. Imagine having a future planned out. An easy future—the kind of future a Pureblood wizard in Britain in the seventies might expect for herself.
Imagine watching someone rise to power in your society. Someone who builds his following on the concept of Pureblood superiority. Someone who your political leaders tell you not to be afraid of, because their top priority is maintaining order. Someone who makes your half-blood friends and colleagues feel afraid. Someone who emboldens the Purebloods who’ve been waiting for an opportunity to defend what they think of as their dying heritage.
Can you imagine such a world?
That’s the world Molly Weasley found herself in.
A world in which a violent, unyielding man was rapidly rising to power on the strength of a message that ultimately protected her pureblood interests. A world in which that man could easily have taken over her section of society.
She was having children, during this time. She was holding her soft-fingered babies, each in turn, each born during the height of Voldemort’s reign. First Bill, then Charlie, then Percy, then Fred and George, then Ron, and finally, right before everything changed, Ginny. She was carrying them, and looking at the future that waited for them.
And she could have looked away.
It would have been so easy to look away. She raised the children, and Arthur did his work at the Ministry, and the Ministry said not to worry.
She could have quietly ignored the work that her brothers were doing in the Order of the Phoenix.
She could have been comfortable enough.
And wasn’t she already tired? It’s hard enough, surviving with a war on, when you have no idea who to trust and who to look out for and who is in danger, when your friends and colleagues are disappearing and you don’t know where they’ve gone or if they’re even still alive. It’s hard enough to do that, and then you have one two three four five six seven children, six boys who need feeding and cleaning and clothing and scolding and holding, plus a tiny tiny miracle girl, and there’s not enough money and your husband is working late again—you get tired.
Molly was tired. Never doubt that she was so, so tired. And she was a pureblood, wasn’t she?
She wasn’t in any danger.
She could have been comfortable.
And then Gideon and Fabian died.
Isn’t it too much to bear? Doesn’t it make you want to break, just hearing it? That woman birthed and raised seven children during a war, watched her former classmates and her friends vanish under the heel of a violent new regime of hatred, and then her brothers. Her only siblings—Gideon and Fabian. Gone.
She had Fabian’s watch, but is that enough to make up for the loss of someone she grew up with? And what does she have of Gideon?
Memories. And her twin boys, named with a nod to the initials of her brothers – Fred and George, who are too young when their uncles die to ever know what their uncles were like.
Molly, standing at two fresh-turned graves with a baby in her arms and a herd of roving boys tearing through the cemetery in their funeral best because they don’t understand the gravity of the day.
And still, there’s fighting. There’s no moment of silence for her grief, not in a war.
Everyone’s lost someone, haven’t they?
But nobody else has lost Gideon and Fabian.
The war ends with the deaths of two more people, and the survival of their baby, and Molly is safe, and her children are safe. And she can forget. She can forget everything that happened.
But she doesn’t.
She and Arthur, together—they remember. And they raise their children, their seven children, to remember too. Even if those children won’t have to remember the horrors of war, they know that “mudblood” is a dirty word, a word we don’t use. And beyond that, they are raised knowing that the idea behind the word is an idea we don’t use. The notion of a blood-traitor, the notion of purity, the very thought that a Weasley might be better than anyone else by merit of their lineage: unacceptable.
They are raised to disregard their pureblood status. They are raised to be kind to those who were unsure or afraid.
Because they are raised by Molly Weasley.
And then, just like that, the war is back on.
It happens so fast, doesn’t it? Ten years of wartime, and then, eleven years later, Molly’s last son befriends the Boy Who Lived, and at the end of the year, there it is: You Know Who is coming back, and Ron is in the hospital wing with a head injury, and it’s all happening again. Four years after that, the Dark Mark is floating in the sky over her children’s heads.
He’s back in power. Same as it ever was. Not that she’s surprised, not exactly. For years, she’s been warning them: don’t endanger your father’s position at the ministry. There will be an inquiry. Don’t cause trouble. Under it all, a constant current: can we trust them? Are we safe?
And then it happens. The war is back on.
What’s an exhausted woman to do?
What’s Molly Weasley to do?
The Order of the Phoenix, back together, back in action. Molly Weasley at the heart of it: her husband working as a mole inside the ministry, her children demanding that they be allowed to participate. She loses Percy to the ministry—heartbreaking, infuriating, but she doesn’t miss a step. She protects the rest of her children as best she can, knowing all too well the danger involved in resistance—but she’s done her job too well, raised them to love justice and fight for what’s right, and her grip on keeping them uninvolved slips fast. And she tells them “no,” but then, who knows better than Molly Weasley how to motivate a teenager? Who knows better than she, the impact the word “no” will have on them? And she makes it known that when they disobey—when they rebel—she’ll be right there, waiting to patch them up and send them back out into the fight.
She makes the Order headquarters liveable. She feeds the Order, knowing that resistance, like any other army, travels on its belly. She passes coded messages. She harbors a fugitive—a damned surly fugitive, at that—and she offers safe harbor to those who live in fear and to those who fight.
The quiet battle, this part—the underground, the note-slipping, before the disappearances begin again. But Molly has seen it before. And when her husband is nearly killed while performing his duty as a guard for The Order, she knows what’s coming.
Molly Weasley watches as so many of her loved ones dance with death. Sirius. Mad-Eye. Dumbledore. Some—her family—escape, by dint of some miracle. Ron is poisoned at Hogsmeade, and Arthur is bitten by Nagini, and Bill is attacked by a werewolf—and Ginny, her miracle daughter Ginny, don’t forget about the Chamber of Secrets and what happened to her girl there. And then, George’s ear, at the very start of that final, fateful year of fighting. The closest call yet. It could have been his head.
Molly Weasley weeps, and she watches, and she works. She never stops the quiet work that goes unnoticed—the waiting-up work, the checking-in, the comforting, the worrying, the hoping. She never stops the more visible work of mending and healing and cooking, of maintaining a safehouse, of knowing the network of safehouses where she can send those who need protecting. Even when her home, the home she and Arthur built together, the home her children were born in—even when her home is attacked by Death Eaters, she doesn’t give up the work.
She weeps, and she bends, but she never breaks. And she never gives up.
She never gives up, even after Fred.
What is enough to break a woman?
A lifetime of war? The murders of her friends and colleagues?
The near-deaths of four of her children? The abandonment of a fifth child to the very regime she is fighting?
The invasion of her home?
The loss of a child?
What is enough to break Molly Weasley?
We have yet to find out. Because Molly Weasley fights. When Fred is murdered, murdered right in front of her, murdered by the same woman who has killed so many others—and then, when that woman goes after Ginny, miracle Ginny —
Molly Weasley fights.
It’s the moment we’ll never forget, the moment she finally shouts what she’s been whispering for so many years.
Not my daughter, you BITCH.
YOU WILL NEVER TOUCH OUR CHILDREN AGAIN.
Molly Weasley rebels. She works against evil, even when it’s scary. Even when it’s risky. Even when it doesn’t benefit her or her family in the slightest.
Molly Weasley never gives up. Even when it hurts. Even in the face of immense personal loss. Even then.
Molly Weasley fights.
Sarah Gailey’s fiction has appeared in Mothership Zeta and Fireside Fiction; her nonfiction has been published by Mashable and Fantasy Literature Magazine. You can see pictures of her puppy and get updates on her work by clicking here. She tweets @gaileyfrey. Watch for her debut novella, River of Teeth, from Tor.com in 2017.