Arthur had been prepared, intellectually, to give his life to the Order. He had served in the first war against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. He’d been injured before in small skirmishes. But never anything like what had happened tonight in front of the Department of Mysteries. His mind might have been prepared, but his heart wasn’t.
The snake caught him by surprise. He had been drowsing against a wall, draped in an Invisibility Cloak, unable to stay awake any longer, when some feeling of unease had him stirring. Suddenly jumping to his feet, the cloak pooled about his legs as he drew his wand. The snake reared and bit him, once, twice, three times, with no time for him to react. He slumped against the wall, immediately going into shock from the venom and sudden, drastic blood loss. A single word fell soundlessly from his lips. “Molly.”
The venom, so potent, sent his mind into a spiral of hallucinations, half-memories of times long past, and some not so far gone.
Molly back when she still had pigtails for him to pull. Take that, Prewett, he taunted, only to have the spitfire make a rude gesture at him.
You kiss your mother with those lips? he asked her mid-tirade, and suddenly her arms were around his neck and her lips on his. No, I kiss you.
Marry me, Molly... make me the happiest man in the world...
His wife in his arms, tired from a long but satisfying round of lovemaking. Arthur, I’m pregnant. Such a feeling of euphoria.
Why was the floor fuzzy? He reached out to touch it, but his hand went straight through it. He whimpered and rolled back, falling to the floor, his head lolling because he couldn’t control himself.
It’s a boy! It’s twins! It’s a girl! Images of squalling red-haired babies swam through his head.
His eyes rolled into the back of his head, and he twitched as he heard something slither by, brushing against his body as if he were nothing but a corpse already.
Mollywobbles... love... it’s all going to be all right...
Specks of white and silver and gold colored his vision, taking over. His breath hitched, felt short, some odd sound stuttered in his ears. He realized a second later, in a moment of clarity, that it was his heartbeat. He was dying.
Daddy, daddy! Pway wit me, daddy!
Arthur, be careful, please. I don’t know how I’d live without you.
Read to me, daddy. The story about the Muggle.
He sighed, his breath soft against his own hand. Soft like Molly’s hair. Her vibrant, beautiful, red hair. His eyes slipped closed for a moment, visualizing it. They fluttered open a moment later, a far off sound finally making its way to his ears. Someone yelling?
Damn it, Albus, I don't want my children involved in this war any more than they already are! Leave them out of your plans!
Arthur, don't go! Stay here tonight; let Mundungus go instead.
The world spun around a dark form somewhere above him. It finally resolved from a swirl of blue and red and glinting gold into a recognizable form. His lips parted but nothing came out.
"Dad? What are you doing here?"
What do you want from the store, Percy? I can get one thing for everyone.
I want a book, Dad. Please.
"Help!! Someone help!!" His son was yelling but it sounded distant, though he could feel the fingers on his skin, cool and hot at the same time. "Please! Anyone!"
Arthur, you’re home! How was work?
Arthur's eyes rolled back into his head again, and his body sagged as he lost consciousness.
"Dad, please! I love you. You can't die, damn it!"
Go to sleep. No monsters can get you here, son, I promise.
Now everything was dark, and there was nothing, no pain, nothing. The next time he opened his eyes, he was in a hospital bed at St Mungo’s, and it was Molly at his bedside, Percy nowhere to be seen.