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Title: Valentine's Gift
Rating: All Audiences
Characters: Arthur/Molly and a whole pack of Weasleys
Setting: February 1983
Format: Fic (~1,500 words)
Summary: By Thursday, he was beginning to worry that his gamble would fail and all his effort would be for nothing. Worse than nothing, since he would have even less to spend on a gift than if he had never tried.
Also Posted at: None
Disclaimer: I own none of this. J. K. Rowling and assorted companies including but not limited to Bloomsbury, Scholastic, and Warner Brothers own everything. They also make all the money. I am just having fun and in no way seek financial profit from their property.
Note: It's 5:00 in the morning. I should be in bed, sound asleep, or at the least reading for my comps. Instead I'm writing fic. And I blame..... mrstater! Lisa'll know why (or will figure it out rather quickly). The rest of you will have to wait for the Note at the end. Oh, and I checked. February 14 really was on Monday in 1983 which is when this is set, assuming I did the math correctly on the children's ages. But math isn't my strong suit, especially not at 2:00 am, which is when I was calculating, so that's a risky assumption.



Valentine's Gift


Monday was easy. Arthur read the paper over his morning tea and toast like usual but then slipped the Daily Prophet out of the house with him rather than leaving it behind for Molly to read during the younger children's nap. Fortunately for him, less so for Molly, the almost five-year-old twins had suddenly decided they were too old for naps and she never noticed the missing paper.

When Arthur got home on Tuesday, Molly immediately commented on the lack of the paper. Apparently the twins, Ron, and Ginny had all settled down for long naps after lunch and Charlie and Percy had managed to play together without fighting for an entire hour. She had the golden opportunity to catch up on the news of the world, but had no paper to read. He apologized for having left with it that morning and wondered how long he would really have to keep doing this.

On Wednesday, as he gave his wife a quick peck on the cheek and slipped out of the house with their Daily Prophet hidden in his cloak for the third morning in a row, Arthur felt a twinge of guilt. As soon as he got to work, he dashed off a quick note, and sent the fastest owl he could find at the Ministry winging towards Hogwarts to enlist the aid of his eldest son. That night, Molly filled him in on everything their first-year son had been doing and positively glowed as she mentioned several times that this was the longest letter Bill had ever written and it had taken her all afternoon, reading it in snatches here and there around handling the other children, to finish it. Arthur smiled and nodded and tried not to laugh as he thought of Bill's note that he had left at work in which the boy had agreed to write to his mother on the condition that she would eventually be told of his part in everything and he would not have to spend any of his own meager pocket money to get her a Valentine's Day present.

By Thursday, he was beginning to worry that his gamble would fail and all his effort would be for nothing. Worse than nothing, since he would have even less to spend on a gift than if he had never tried. Valentine's Day was Monday. If he had no luck by the end of the day tomorrow, it would be too late. Still, he had managed to slip out of the house with the Daily Prophet for the fourth day in a row. At least Molly hadn't caught him, yet.

On Friday, Arthur came into his office and fell back into his chair with a loud sigh as he threw the Daily Prophet on his desk in disgust. Last night had been terrible. The children were all running mild fevers. Nothing dangerous, just enough that they were tired, and were either asleep or awake and cranky about being so. Their sleeping left Molly with enough time to realize that she had not read the news all week and could not find a single Prophet in the house and their crankiness rubbed off to make her angrier about that than usual. She had still been mad that morning and was largely ignoring him. Which was the only reason he'd been able to slip out of the house with the paper yet again. He didn't know why he was bothering any more. He was out of time and this would only make matters worse. At least this was the last day.

On Saturday, he had to take Percy to St. Mungo's. Of all the children, he was the only one whose fever had not abated and Molly was getting worried. Too worried, in fact, to have noticed Friday's missing paper. After getting a potion for Percy and being assured that his son was not contagious and would be fine, Arthur decided to stop by the Ministry for one last check before admitting defeat. There, waiting on his desk, was the letter he had been hoping for. In a flurry of owls, including one to Molly to assure her Percy was fine, Arthur had just been called into the office for a bit, and they would both be home soon, Arthur quickly made all the necessary arrangements. Percy was perfectly content to sit at his father's desk, pretending to write memos and letters of his own, and was quite disappointed when they had to leave to go to Diagon Alley. By the time they returned home, it was getting late, Arthur was the happiest he had been in a week, and six-year-old Percy was sound asleep in his father's arms.

On Sunday, he was caught.

"Arthur."

At the sharp tone of her voice, he quickly looked up from the storybook he was reading to Ron, who sat on his lap, expecting to find one of the other children pestering her while she snatched a moment to read the first paper she'd had her hands on in a week. But the twins and Charlie were still playing their game in the corner and Percy was still helping Ginny as she toddled about the room with her hesitant little steps.

"Yes, dear?"

"What is this advertisement?"

Arthur could feel all the blood rushing from his face and knew he was turning rather pale. His classified advertisement could not still be running. He had only paid for five days. Trying to keep his voice steady, he asked, "Wh- *ahem* what advertisement, dear?"

"This one offering your Muggle batteries for sale."

Arthur winced as a tiny voice in the back of his mind whispered vaguely about the man at the Prophet office explaining to him they were offering a special of one free advertisement in an issue of the Sunday Prophet with the purchase of five days in the Daily Prophet. "It's nothing, Mollywobbles. Just clearing out some room in the shed."

Her eyes had narrowed at his use of her nickname and he knew it was too much and she didn't believe a word he said.

"Arthur Weasley. I want to know what you are doing and I want to know this instant."

With a mental shrug and without taking his eyes from her face, he said "Charlie, go look in the pockets of my cloak for a small box and bring it to me, please."

They waited in silence, except for the occasional babble from Ginny, until Charlie returned with a black box, tied shut with a simple red ribbon. Arthur traded Charlie Ron for the box and walked over to Molly's chair. He held it out to her with a softly whispered, "Happy Valentine's Day."

Her hand flew to her mouth and her cheeks flushed. "Oh, Arthur."

She made no move to take the box from him and he moved it a little closer to her.

"Shouldn't we wait for tomorrow?"

He smiled and shook his head no. "I'll be at work all day tomorrow anyway. Go on. Open it."

With trembling fingers, she untied the box and slowly flipped it open. He thought she gasped "Oh, Arthur," again, but wasn't certain since the children were suddenly surrounding them. Over the general cacophony of "Let me see," and "What is it, Mum?" he could only clearly hear Percy's "I know what it is. I saw it yesterday."

With tears shining in her eyes, Molly held her gift out for the children to see. Charlie still carried Ron and Arthur picked up Ginny from where she was crawling around their feet so everyone was able to see the gold heart pendant and chain nestled in the box. At the top of the heart were two white diamonds. Each of the two sides held three blue gemstones, evenly spaced around the edge. At the bottom point was a single pink gem. The boys oohed and awed for a moment but quickly lost interest in the necklace, and Ginny's only concern with it was whether she'd be allowed to put it in her mouth. When it was clearly established the answer to that was "No," she too lost interest and wanted down to crawl off in search of something else to chew.

With the children dispersed, Arthur knelt beside Molly's chair, removed the necklace from its box, and shuffled around to carefully latch it around her neck.

"You sold your batteries to buy me this."

"Yes, dear. It was close, though. I just sold them yesterday. And, um… the gems aren't real. It's the best…"

She hushed him with a soft and gentle kiss. "I love it. It's perfect," she whispered as she drew back.

He smiled, and then suddenly remembered his promise to his eldest. "Oh. Bill wants you to know he was in on all this and that letter is part of your Valentine's present and he loves you."

"He's such a good boy. I'll go write him a letter to thank him," she said, her hand moving to the necklace at her throat, rubbing at the heart. "I'll thank you later," she added with a half a wink in Arthur's direction as she pulled away and began to rise from the chair.

"Yes, dear."



Note Part 2: Earlier today (uh… yesterday. Valentine's Day.), mrstater and I were discussing Remus, Tonks, and fanfic (You were expecting something else?). Somehow while hashing out plot points, characterizations, and the many gaps JKR has left just for us to fill, we ended up playing around at the Lexicon and looking at all the information they have on the Daily Prophet. For those of you that might not know, Bloomsbury had an official Harry Potter Fan Club in the late 1990s. Membership included the occasional copy of the Daily Prophet, a newsletter written by JKR as though it were the real in-universe newspaper. According to the Lexicon, the first issue of the Daily Prophet included an ad in which A. Weasley was selling his collection of Muggle batteries. I asked why Arthur would sell his batteries. Lisa said to buy a present for Molly. And a plot bunny was born.

I suppose I should apologize for posting a Valentine's story on February 15, especially one in which Molly rumbled onto Arthur on February 13, making my timing ever further off the mark, but I won't. I'm going to pretend I intend it to help everyone get over any post-holiday blues. Besides, when Lisa doesn't hand me the plot bunny until the afternoon of February 14, you can't expect the fic much earlier than the morning of February 15. Really now.

Comments:

Bratanimus
bratanimus at 12:29 pm on 15 February 2007 (UTC) (Link)
Aww, I really like this! You've really got the bustle of large family life down. And the necklace is perfect; I could really picture it from your description. I loved how Arthur had to enlist the help of Bill to provide some written material for Molly so that she wouldn't miss the paper. ;)

I really liked this little tidbit of characterization: Percy was perfectly content to sit at his father's desk, pretending to write memos and letters of his own, and was quite disappointed when they had to leave to go to Diagon Alley. :D LOL

Loved the last line, his words so "ordinary" after such a hint from his wife. Thanks for the post-Valentine's Day fix. Lovely. :)
Rachael
bratty_jedi at 2:07 pm on 15 February 2007 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks :)

I don't know why, but I ended up having the most fun with Percy in this. I originally thought there'd be more twins, but the ideas I had for them didn't quite work with the ages they had to be based on what I needed everyone else to be doing. So the twins got short-changed and Percy got to let his personality shine a bit more. Glad you liked him.

I amused myself with that last line and I'm very happy to know that things that entertain me at 4:00 am with no sleep actually make sense to someone else.

Thanks again for your lovely comments!
What's Taters, Precious?
mrstater at 1:51 pm on 15 February 2007 (UTC) (Link)
I'm so glad you wrote something! Was it a therapeutic change of pace?

This is so cute and such a nice little glimpse of a domestic Valentine's Day. You've really nailed the Weasley family dynamic! I think my favorite detail is Ginny wanting to put the shiny necklace in her mouth; it's so funny to think of them all being babies!

And I do love Arthur. Such a sweetie.

Really, really sweet.
Rachael
bratty_jedi at 2:23 pm on 15 February 2007 (UTC) (Link)
Was it a therapeutic change of pace?
It really kind of was. I knew when I started writing it that if I did it, I would be getting no sleep. But I realized it's been over a month since I wrote anything and decided that had to be worse for my health than going without sleep. Now I'm kind of thinking sleep might not have been such a bad idea, but I'm still glad I did it. It was fun. Ask me again around 4:00 this afternoon and we'll see how I feel about that fic vs. sleep decision.

I actually had the hardest time thinking of Charlie as a kid. I really don't know why. I didn't have too much trouble imagining everyone else as babies/little kids, but he just felt a bit weird. I had a lot of fun trying to come up with the little daily insanities for such a large family and I'm very happy you think that came across. Ginny wanting to put the necklace in her mouth was one of the last details I added and one of my favorites as well.

Arthur's great. I think he deserves more respect than he gets in fandom in general.

Thanks again for the comments and the plot bunny.
JD
jdbracknell at 4:08 pm on 15 February 2007 (UTC) (Link)
Aww.. this is really lovely. I love how you've captured family life without making me want to wretch by over-sentimentalising children and how adults act around them, and Arthur's gift is really lovely. (and now I'm writing this that doesn't really sound like the compliment I mean it as, but I hope you'll take it as one)

You had me wondering for ages, though, why he was stealing the newspaper - I remember seeing those Daily Prophets but that little snippet had slipped from my mind. It's such a lovely idea that he can't afford to buy her something outright, so he sells something of his own that is dear to him, for her. And I love the idea of this market in second or third hand Muggle artifacts.

Thanks for the present - this was really a lovely gift :).
Rachael
bratty_jedi at 4:47 pm on 15 February 2007 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. I'm very glad I managed to avoid your wretching reflexes with my pack of little Weasleys. ;)

You had me wondering for ages, though, why he was stealing the newspaper
I reread the fic three or four times after finishing it, trying to decide if it would make sense to someone who wasn't in on Lisa's and my conversation about the Prophet ad. I never can decide on stuff like that how much cryptic is good and how much just gets confusing if you don't already know what Rachael's thinking.

It's such a lovely idea that he can't afford to buy her something outright, so he sells something of his own that is dear to him, for her. And I love the idea of this market in second or third hand Muggle artifacts.
And of course all credit for those goes to JKR and mrstater.

Thanks for the present - this was really a lovely gift
You're welcome :)
And thanks for your comments!
Raving Lunatic
molly_coddles at 6:11 pm on 15 February 2007 (UTC) (Link)
Aww, you might regret staying up all night to write, but I'm glad you did! ;) Terribly selfish, I know.
This is really sweet, and you did a great job capturing the dynamics of a busy family. I particularly liked reading Percy, lol.
Arthur remembering Valentine's Day, and going through so much effort for the perfect gift is enough to make me sigh. This is why I read. ;)

Happy post-Valentine's-day!
Rachael
bratty_jedi at 6:22 pm on 15 February 2007 (UTC) (Link)
I probably won't regret it too much. I'll just be popping No-Doze all day. And my friends leaving reviews like this make it worth it :)

The fact that you think the family dynamics came across believably really means a lot since you've actually got rugrats running around your place.

I loved writing little!Percy. He was so much fun! I may have to do more little!Weasleys fics. In my copious spare time and around my 5,000 other fanfic projects. I'd say look for those in about... 2015?

I'm very pleased you liked this and thank you so much for your lovely comments.
gijane7702
gijane7702 at 6:35 pm on 15 February 2007 (UTC) (Link)
THIS is why Arthur is my favorite!

Right then and there, minus the 7 children *giggles*, Molly knew Arthur loved her...he sold his beloved Muggle batteries for a present!!

And the Percy line is perfect =D So is Bill =D

Rachael
bratty_jedi at 6:39 pm on 15 February 2007 (UTC) (Link)
Gotta love Arthur. The man is just awesome.

Arthur selling batteries... that would be almost like me selling my legos to buy somebody a present! No truer expression of love.

Glad you like Percy and Bill. Percy seems to be a big favorite.

Thanks for the comments!
gilpin25
gilpin25 at 8:33 pm on 15 February 2007 (UTC) (Link)
Like many have said, I really liked the strong family dynamic you created, which reads like a slice of real homelife and the children act like real children do. I have to agree that Percy pretending to write memos (I nearly typed memes!) was very cute. Arthur and Bill working as a team was great, especially Bill's insistence that he gets due credit from Mum at the end and keeps his pocket money. No wonder he ends up in a bank, lol.

I enjoyed all the way through trying to work out what was in the Prophet's that he didn't want her to see, and it does seem like a very Arthur thing to do that he'd sell something which means a lot to get her a gift. If only I could think of another pair like that. ;)

Thank you for giving up your sleep; I thoroughly enjoyed it and am very glad you did. :) And you might be amused to know that we have a Sunday newspaper here called the News of the World, which can best be described as gossipy, inaccurate, rather tacky and anything else you want to throw in. So the idea of Molly wanting to catch up on it was inspired!
Rachael
bratty_jedi at 9:38 pm on 15 February 2007 (UTC) (Link)
Percy doesn't really strike me as the Meme type... ;)

Trying to get the right balance of nine characters in 1500 words without utter chaos was probably the biggest challenge in writing this so I'm very tickled that the slice of home-life works, along with the mystery of exactly what Arthur was doing.

News of the World, which can best be described as gossipy, inaccurate, rather tacky and anything else you want to throw in.
Uh... I knew that?
Seriously? That's cool. Go me for randomly stumbling into something that means more than I knew. Thanks for telling me that. I'm highly amused.

If only I could think of another pair like that. ;)
I told one of my friends from school "I wrote a story. And neither Remus nor Tonks is in it at all." My friend nearly died from shock.

Thanks so much for all your lovely and thoughtful comments. It's stuff like this that makes the lack of sleep really worth it :)


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