Before Molly Weasley was the Bellatrix-slaying legend we all know and adore now, once upon a time she was simply Ron’s exasperated mum at King’s Cross Station. But there was one particular moment that gave Molly a dear place in our hearts forever, and all it took was a hug. Let's return to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, chapter 36, ‘The Parting of the Ways’.
Before the third task
Prior to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Molly could always be relied upon to dish out punishment and make us, the readers, laugh at the Weasley siblings’ misfortune. Of course, our favourite was when the twins and Ron stole a car to break Harry out from the Dursleys’, and they were punished by having to de-gnome the garden. Despite this, Ron stole the car again, and was greeted by a Howler reprimanding him so loudly that everyone in the Great Hall could hear.
‘... STEALING THE CAR, I WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN SURPRISED IF THEY’D EXPELLED YOU, YOU WAIT TILL I GET HOLD OF YOU, I DON’T SUPPOSE YOU STOPPED TO THINK WHAT YOUR FATHER AND I WENT THROUGH WHEN WE SAW IT HAD GONE …’
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Before ‘The Parting of the Ways’, Molly was the necessary disciplinarian, the strict parent to Arthur’s laid-back one. But every reprimand was born out of love, and Molly’s love shone through more than ever in one of the final chapters of the fourth book.
‘The Parting of the Ways’
We'll never forget the awful scene where Harry witnessed the return of Lord Voldemort and the death of Cedric Diggory before having to explain the events to Dumbledore and Sirius. On top of all this, Harry had to deal with the shock revelation that Mad-Eye Moody was, in fact, the Death Eater, Barty Crouch Jr. It was an awful lot to take in. Traumatised and in shock, he took a Sleeping Potion in the hospital wing, only to be woken by the Minister of Magic, who made it clear he didn’t believe Harry’s story about Voldemort’s return. He was then left alone by Dumbledore and his godfather, while Ron, Hermione and Molly remained at his side.
Harry slumped back against his pillows as Dumbledore disappeared. Hermione, Ron and Mrs Weasley were all looking at him. None of them spoke for a very long time.
‘You’ve got to take the rest of your potion, Harry,’ Mrs Weasley said at last. Her hand nudged the sack of gold on his bedside cabinet as she reached for the bottle and the goblet. ‘You have a good long sleep. Try and think about something else for a while… think about what you’re going to buy with your winnings!’
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
In this case, Molly was there for Harry. When no one knew what to say, and even Ron and Hermione were at a loss, she was the first person who tried to comfort him and distract him from the horror he had been through. What’s more, there were a thousand Galleons on his bedside table that Harry said he didn’t want, and Molly didn’t think about them for a moment when Harry offered it to her. We know how poor the Weasleys were, and how much they could have done with that money that Harry was telling her to take. Instead, the Weasley matriarch didn’t think about anything but Harry’s wellbeing.
When it became clear that Harry was utterly despondent, Molly gave Harry one simple thing that he desperately needed – a hug.
‘It wasn’t your fault, Harry,’ Mrs Weasley whispered.
‘I told him to take the Cup with me,’ said Harry.
Now the burning feeling was in his throat, too. He wished Ron would look away.
Mrs Weasley set the potion down on the bedside cabinet, bent down, and put her arms around Harry. He had no memory of ever being hugged like this, as though by a mother. The full weight of everything he had seen that night seemed to fall in upon him as Mrs Weasley held him to her. His mother’s face, his father’s voice, the sight of Cedric, dead on the ground, all started spinning in his head until he could hardly bear it, until he was screwing up his face against the howl of misery fighting to get out of him.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Why it mattered
We all know Harry’s past: he was an orphan who was raised in a home with no love or affection from his family, and always longed to know them, so much so that he would later sit and stare at them for hours in the Mirror of Erised.
Throughout Goblet of Fire, where Harry needed family more than ever to get him through the tournament, it was Molly who turned up to support Harry through the final task, when Harry was expecting no one.
After Harry’s dreadful ordeal in the graveyard, Molly’s motherly presence had never been so important. Although Dumbledore and Sirius were the father figures in Harry’s life at that point, when the moment came that he desperately needed comfort, Molly knew exactly what to do. She gave him the parental affection that Harry so desperately craved.
‘Your potion, Harry,’ said Mrs Weasley quickly, wiping her eyes on the back of her hand.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Molly’s role in Harry’s life
Although Molly had always been kind and looked out for Harry, right from the moment she helped him on to platform nine and three-quarters in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, she became so much more after comforting him that night in the hospital wing. If anything, this chapter marked the moment Harry stopped being Ron’s friend and became family in Molly’s eyes. Nothing proved this more than in chapter nine of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, ‘The Woes of Mrs Weasley’, when Harry walked in on her trying to banish a Boggart that had taken the shape of her worst fear – the death of her family – and saw his own dead body:
‘No!’ Mrs Weasley moaned. ‘No ... riddikulus! Riddikulus! RIDDIKULUS!’
Crack. Dead twins. Crack. Dead Percy. Crack. Dead Harry ...
‘Mrs Weasley, just get out of here!’ shouted Harry, staring down at his own dead body on the floor. ‘Let someone else – ’
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
This was made even more apparent in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, when Mrs Weasley gave Harry her late brother's watch for his seventeenth birthday. This was special because it was traditional to give a wizard a watch when he came of age, and Mrs Weasley knew that Harry didn’t have anyone else to give him one.
‘I’m afraid that one isn’t new like Ron’s, it was actually my brother Fabian’s and he wasn’t terribly careful with his possessions, it’s a bit dented on the back, but –’
The rest of her speech was lost; Harry had got up and hugged her. He tried to put a lot of unsaid things into the hug and perhaps she understood them, because she patted his cheek clumsily when he released her, then waved her wand in a slightly random way, causing half a pack of bacon to flop out of the frying pan on to the floor.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Molly was there for Harry right at the beginning of his magical journey, and right at the very end. And although Harry had many other good friends to help him along the way, no one else thought to give him a hug after a bloody confrontation with Lord Voldemort.
Pottermore looks back at the moments that made our favourite characters so memorable. Read about the chapter that made us fall in love with... Professor Snape.