WORD COUNT: 1169
PAIRING: Sirius Black / Molly Weasley
SUMMARY: Sirius has always been one to push the limits.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Written for the Summer Spells self-challenge; prompt: anvil
DISCLAIMER: Not my characters; I'm just playing in J.K. Rowling's sandbox.
"If there's one thing I'll never understand, it's how you boys can use up so much bread," Molly Weasley said, emerging from the pantry.
Sirius, seated alone at the long table, snorted into his tea.
"Honestly," Molly went on, "you'd think all you and Remus ever ate was toast."
"Toast is easy," Sirius protested.
Molly frowned at him. "Well, we'll definitely need more before the children get here this weekend. And I was hoping to make the Christmas pudding ahead of time."
Sirius perked up. "Need someone to pop out to the shops, then? I can go and be home within the hour."
"Don't be silly, Sirius. I'll ask Arthur to go; he'll be glad to take a break from tidying up the bedrooms." And before Sirius could say another word, she was up the stairs and gone.
He sighed, and waved his wand to refill the tea. Sitting around doing absolutely nothing was beginning to take its toll on Sirius. He'd managed to get out of bed and dressed at a decent hour this morning, but some days it was difficult to work up the motivation. The worst part was that no one -- but no one -- could possibly understand how difficult it was for him to stay cooped up in this god-awful place. After twelve years in Azkaban --
No. He wasn't going to think about Azkaban. He was going to think of Harry, and the Christmas holiday that started this weekend, and of all the friends that would fill the rooms of 12 Grimmauld Place, and all the fun they were going to have.
Footsteps interrupted Sirius' reverie, and he looked up to see Molly coming back into the kitchen. She looked at him with an odd mixture of concern and disapproval. It was a look he'd grown quite accustomed to in the past few months.
"Are you all right, Sirius?" Molly asked.
He tried to smile. It was no use explaining. "I'm fine, Molly."
She clucked her tongue. "I know you want to get out of the house, but --"
"I'm fine," he said, harsher than he meant to. "I mean, I know I can't leave. It's just..." He shrugged.
"Worried about Harry?" Molly said, sitting down at the table across from Sirius and making herself a cup of tea.
"That's... part of it," he said. "Sitting here... I see you and Arthur and your kids, and I realize I don't know the first thing about how to act around Harry."
Molly made a "mmm" noise that Sirius took for understanding.
"He reminds me so much of James," Sirius continued, more to himself than to Molly. "It's like seeing a ghost. I could almost imagine I were sixteen again myself." He gazed into his empty cup.
Molly reached across the table and put a hand on Sirius' arm. "It'll get easier, Sirius. You have to remember that I've been a mum for -- well, Bill just turned twenty-five, that's a quarter of a century!" She patted him. "Experience is all you need. You and Harry have plenty of time to catch up on things, not to worry."
"Thanks," Sirius said with a wry grin. Molly patted his arm again and smiled. She stood up and moved to the counter, once again intent on preparing goodies for the coming holidays.
He watched her easy movements for a few moments, admiring her familiarity with the kitchen. He was dreadful at cooking, though he liked to console himself with the fact that it was hardly his fault, now, was it? Still, without Molly Weasley's magic, 12 Grimmauld Place would hardly be a welcoming home for Harry and his friends to come to.
Sirius realized with a guilty start that he'd been staring at Molly's rear end for entirely too long. All right, old man, he told himself, you know you're starting to lose it when Molly Weasley looks tempting.
As if she could feel his eyes on her, Molly turned around at that moment. "What's on your mind now, Sirius?" she said. "It's not good to brood too much."
"I know," he said with a sigh, and stood up to carry his empty cup to the sink. He stood leaning against the counter for a moment, watching Molly coordinate bowls of potatoes and parsnips and carrots. "I know I don't tell you and Arthur enough how much I appreciate your help," he said at last. Feeling somewhat awkward, he patted Molly's shoulder.
"Oh, Sirius," Molly said, and laid her hand over top of his. "You know it's no trouble at all. Just because you have to stay here doesn't mean it has to be painful."
But it is painful, Sirius thought. He looked at Molly's hand then. Was it lingering on his? After another minute, she pulled away to turn her full attention back to the chopping and peeling.
Definitely lingering, he thought. Or you're just going completely around the bend. He folded his arms across his chest and tried to think of something else to say.
"Molly, I --" He broke off when she turned to listen, her lips partly open, her eyes warm with compassion. Sod it, he thought, and then he was bending over her, pressing his lips against hers.
She stiffened, but didn't respond to his kiss. He put one hand on her shoulder, to turn her towards him, but his other hand hung in the air, unsure. After a moment he pulled back to look at her. She was staring at him, wide-eyed and dazed, with a slight flush creeping across her cheeks. Her wand dropped from her limp fingers, and the vegetables all came to rest on the countertops.
Maybe you've lost your touch, he told himself. Bet I haven't. He moved to kiss her again.
She slapped him. Resoundingly.
He reeled against the counter. "I guess I deserved that," he said wryly.
That seemed to wake her from her daze. "Oh my -- Sirius, I'm so sorry -- here, let me --" She snatched up her wand and fetched some ice and a towel, making a cold compress with a quick spell.
He took it from her and sat down at the table. "I should be the one apologizing, Molly," he said.
She sat down opposite him, perched on the edge of her chair, her eyes flicking across his face and then away.
"Sorry," he offered, somewhat weakly he thought. But she seemed to relax a bit.
They sat in silence for a moment.
"Molly," Sirius said, "you're a very attractive witch, do you know that?"
"Well, I've always thought so," boomed a voice from the top of the stairs. Arthur Weasley was standing there with a few bags. "Hallo dear, hallo Sirius." He tromped down the stairs and planted a kiss on his wife's cheek.
"Hurt yourself with the potato peeler, Sirius?" he asked with a grin.
Sirius gave a small laugh. "Exactly right, Arthur." He winked at Molly, who blushed, but said nothing.