When Molly says that she dreams about having a mother and father again I feel as though she is also dreaming about having a normal life again and not having to scrub the floors and sew clothes. I really fell sorry for her because she was 4 years old when her parents died so she knew what it was like to be a normal kid and do all the things that kids with parents do.
Agreed, I was just reading this1932 movie synopsis(!) and was struck by how Annie caring for a younger orphan is fromt he earliest days of the comic strip. It's why I have July in this fic having a guilt trip, as the mother figure, over how she she didn't let whoever dropped Molly off know how bad it was, though she gets to meet with her again in the end.Plus, as Duffy reminds her (becasue even a mother figure needs mothering herself), she really had little choice.
Annie probably snuck out enough Miss Hannigan may have felt she *had* to bring someone in to maybe make Annie stay and take care of her. I can just see her being read to scream inj frustration and July and Annie teaching her the antics that eventually make it into their "Hard Knock Life" skit (which I wrote in that fic as them having developed themselves). Indeed, as I have Pepper realizing at the end here, having her there might have helped all of them cope.
I always figure Molly has to sit with Annie - and Kate with July - becasue she would slow them down too much on her own. Which means at least the bond develops. But, it is a really rough life for her. The only good thing is, the others seem to be expected to take care of her, Miss Hannigan expects them to get her out of that laundry hamper at the end of HKL after all. (One reason I like to portray her enjoying hiding like that for attention.) Following in their footsteps, she'd still be scared by Miss Hannigan, but maybe feel a *little* more comfortable. (I think I read where sometimes she was the one to step on Miss Hannigan's foot.) Although as I like to joke, MIss Hannigan probably threatened to feed her from a saucer of milk and make her catch birds for food if she acted too much lie a cat. :-) (And then there's the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911, which led to safety regulations they'd have to adhere to and show they do in inspections - and I imagine Miss Hannigan threatened that if they don't clean the place well, "there'll be another fire; last time it was the triangles, this time and you'll make all the circles and squares burn up, too." :-) (Hey, she says in "Little Girls" that she'd have cracked if it weren't for her sense of humor, and it sounds like her kind of joke.)