"I'm sorry" Molly muttered "I thought you two were still close..." she explained, a little surprised Charlotte had been so quick to push her brother aside. She knew how that felt. She had lived with it her entire life.
Gregory's words stung like a bitter cold wind on a frigid winter day. His tone held the insults he and Charlotte had hurled her way as children. Stupid Molly, foolish Molly, you'll never be like us. Their past words echoed in her head as a fresh reminder of their feelings towards her. Molly stared down at her hands. Despite her brother's hurtful words she knew he was in a difficult place. Still, she wasn't sure how much longer she'd be open to dealing with his usual abuse. She had made the effort to make them comfortable, and he couldn't provide so much as a genuine "thank you"? Why was she putting up with it all? The answer to her question leaped into her lap. Teddy. He was such a sweet little boy, she couldn't leave them to live in a hotel for who knows how long. Sitting back in her lap, Teddy put his little hands on either side of Molly's face, and looked at her intently.
"Auntie Mo sad?" he asked. Molly forced a smile.
"No my darling." she said, glancing over at Greg before turning her attention back to Teddy. "Auntie Mo just can't believe how much you've grown since I saw you last." it was a lame excuse, but Teddy seemed to accept it, and further settled into her lap while inspecting the ribbon around a stuffed dog's neck. When Gregory asked about the spare room, instead of answering him directly, she spoke to Teddy.
"Well, I think there is a very grown up boy who'd like his own room while you stay, right?" she asked the little boy, who jumped out of her lap and squealed in a agreement. "Well we better go take a look at it then." she said, trying to match the child's excitement. Teddy raced to Gregory's side and yanked eagerly at his arm, trying to pull him towards the stairs.
"Go see! Go see!" Teddy yelled, and with that the group climbed the stairs to officially sort out the sleeping arrangements.
The next week creeped by for Molly at a painfully slow pace. Instead of staying at the castle after work, Molly often took the floo network home after her classes. Something in her gut told her it was the right thing to do. Most days Teddy was Gregory and Molly's main focus. The child kept spirits light for Molly, and kept Gregory's temper in check around his little sister. However, it hadn't taken long for Molly to realize her brother wasn't on the road to rebuilding his life like he had claimed the one time she dared ask. Most evenings, after Teddy was tucked in and asleep, Greg was no where to be found. One night, while Molly graded some papers in the living room, she heard Teddy's bedroom door close, and before she could even put her work aside, her brother was breezing past her and out the front door, only to return in the wee hours of the following morning. The one night Molly had stayed at Hogwarts, in an attempt to get a little respite from her brother and his issues, she had noticed the liquor cabinet was looking a bit spars the next day when she came home. Her concern was building.
Things came to a head late that Friday night. Per usual Greg had disappeared immediately after Teddy had gone to bed. Molly had given up trying to stop him, and didn't waste time going to sleep herself. Around three in the morning, there was the sound of sniffling coming from beside her bed. Molly knew even before she opened her eyes that it was Teddy. He had gotten out of bed a few times over the course of the week, but all it had taken in the past was a few hugs, a second bedtime story, and some reassurance to get the child to go back to sleep in his own room. Immediately upon laying eyes on the child, she knew this time was different. Teddy shoulders trembled as soft sobs escaped from him, tears soaking his cheeks. Molly went to him, and wrapped him in her arms.
"Oh goodness Teddy. What happened? Are you alright?" she asked. Her nephew melted into her arms, releasing a flood gate of sobs and tears.
"I miss Mummy." he whimpered into Molly's shoulder. "Where is Mummy?" Molly's heart dropped into her stomach. She was not the person who should be having this conversation with Teddy. Greg should be. Scooping up the crying child, Molly tip toed through the house, hoping her brother was home. Anger and frustration rose in her as she came to the realization that he was still not home. How could he be so careless? Teddy needed him! He should be here for this! He had spent any moment he had to himself sulking about like a child, and as a result was failing to be there for Teddy during an incredibly vulnerable moment. Back in her room Molly set Teddy down on the edge of the bed and swiped the tears from his eyes.
"Oh sweetie, I know you miss Mummy right now. It will be ok. I promise!" she said, trying her best to reassure him. Teddy reached out and wrapped his arms tightly around Molly's neck.
"Promise?" he asked, his breath shaking from all the crying. Molly sighed, and cuddles him tight.
"I promise." she said. "Come on now my love. Come snuggle in with me tonight." she said, tucking them both in under her covers. Teddy clung to her in his sleep, but Molly was wide awake. How could her brother leave him in this situation?! Livid didn't even begin to describe how she was feeling. She knew she couldn't hide from her brother anymore and would have to face him. Molly heard the front door click shut around five in the morning along with stumbling footsteps around the living room downstairs. Molly carefully pealed Teddy off of her and crept downstairs. She felt disgusted when she walked in to find her brother drunkenly passed out on the couch. He reeked of alcohol and cigarettes, and looked at though he had rolled around in a dumpster for a few hours. This was not her brother. Not the Greg she had grown up with, always on his game, always working to be the best, the parodical son of the family. This was not who Teddy needed in the morning. Molly knew that if she hadn't been home, Greg would have been in no condition to comfort his own child in his drunken stupor. Enough was enough.
When Teddy woke up a few hours later, Molly distracted him with some toys in her bedroom, he didn't need to see his father in such a state. Quickly she arranged for Talia and Rose to entertain Teddy for the day outside of the house. This conversation was bound to get loud, and Teddy didn't need to bare witness to such an argument. It was the first time since they were teenagers that Molly was alone in the house with Greg. It didn't feel good. She knew she'd want to run from his temper, but it was in his best interest that she stand her ground. In her head she kept reminding herself that this was all for the good of Teddy. Molly took it upon herself to throw out any alcohol that remained in the house, and even snooped through her brother's room to make sure he didn't have any hiding spots. Nervously she paced through the kitchen as she waited, every time Greg shifted in his sleep causing her heart to pound hard and fast in her chest. She had never confronted her brother before. Guess there's a first time for everything.