Arthur Weasley was tired. Voldemort had been defeated almost three years ago, and they were still dealing with the clean-up. It was difficult to tell how was on Voldemort's side, and who wasn't, who had been placed under the Imperius Curse, and who was just using that as a cover up. It had been a long day at the Ministry, and all he wanted, more than anything, was to be at home with his wife and his seven children, two of whom were at Hogwarts.
"Arthur? What are you still doing here?" It was Mad Eye Moody, as those at the Ministry were starting to call the old and now slightly paranoid Auror.
"Finishing up some paperwork. Eight raids today… Eight!"
"How many kids you got now, Weasley?"
"Seven," Arthur said with a smile, his fatherly pride showing through clearly. "The newest one is Ginny. Three years old and she's had me wrapped around her finger since day one."
"That's not unusual, I've heard. Once upon a time, I wanted kids. Oh well. Can't very well have any now, what with Death Eaters threatening to kill me left and right." There was a tone of nonchalance in his voice, but Arthur knew and understood the sacrifice Moody had made. "Go home, Arthur, and see the little one. I'll find someone tocover for you." Arthur gave a quick nod of thanks and headed toward the door. "Oh, and Arthur?"
"One last thing. Get some rest. You look like hell."
"Thanks, Moody." The look Arthur shot him was one of pure gratitude as he took off out the door.
"Crazy bastard," Moody whispered to himself. "Seven." Then he grinned. "Lucky bastard, too."
Ginny sat on the floor with Fred and George. Around her was arranged a tower of blocks so high she couldn't see over it. However, she was determined not to cry. She would find her way out of it, come hell or high water. Meanwhile, her brothers got a laugh out of her desperate attempts to escape.
She stood up again, and surveyed her situation. Impatiently, she pushed her hair out of her eyes. For some reason, the blocks wouldn't fall over if she pushed them, and they had built them in a circle, so she couldn't just walk out. In fact, Ginny was just now getting very frustrated. She pushed her unruly red hair out of her eyes and wiped her eyes with the back of her sleeve.
Suddenly, she heard her Daddy come through the door. "Hello, everyone! I'm home!" Ginny heard everyone run to the door, heard her mother get her "hello" kiss. "Where's my little one?"
"Daddy! Help me!"
But apparently Arthur didn't hear her. "Fred, George, do you know where your sister is?"
"She's in the…" George started.
"No. We don't know."
"Fred and George Weasley, where did you put your poor dear sister this time?" Molly demanded, still standing with her arm around Arthur's waist, leaning on him.
"We didn't put her anywhere," Fred said decisively.
"You're a terrible liar," Percy pointed out from where he was standing.
"Thower," Ron managed, as he had a toothache.
"Where, sweetie?" Molly was on her knees in an instant.
"Fred and George's…" he struggled with the word, "thower."
"In the living room?" Arthur asked, this time.
"Yep," Ron said, proud of himself.
When Arthur finally made it to the living room, he could Ginny's screams. "It's okay, sweetie. Daddy's coming to get you, all right?"
"Daddy!" Ginny suddenly felt much better. Everything was going to be okay. Her daddy was here and was going to take care of her.
The dreadful tower wasn't really so terrible, after all. Arthur had it ripped apart in seconds, and as soon as he did, a red haired bullet streaked out of the rubble.
"Daddy! You're home early!" Arthur scooped her up into his arms and straightened her dress. A frown covered what Arthur considered her perfect face after a moment. "Are you still going to tuck me in and read me a story?"
"Of course. I wouldn't miss it for the world."
"Yes, little one?"
Ginny spread her arms out wide, as far as she could. "I love you this much!"
Arthur grinned. This was his favorite game. He dropped Ginny to the floor and spread his arms out wide. "I love youthis much!"
Ginny strove to widen her arms even more. "I love you this much!"
"I don't know how I can beat that." Arthur made a show of thinking about it. "I love you from here to Scotland!"
"I love you all the way to America!"
Arthur and Ginny went on for some time like this… until they were circling the globe twice around.
"Don't you think it's time for little ones to go to bed?" Molly asked, using Ginny's pet name. She was almost reluctant to break up the game, for it was also hers. After six sons, to finally have a girl was one of the most amazing things to happen to her. Not that she didn't love her sons equally, which she did, but having a girl was new and exciting. There was also this bond between Arthur and Ginny- Ginny really was Daddy's little girl. If Arthur could give Ginny the world, Molly knew he would in a heartbeat. There was something infinitely sweet about that, and it made Molly fall in love with him all over again.
"Yes, especially this little one."
"Story!" Ginny demanded.
"All right. One story, then it's off to bed. Come on, then." Arthur picked her up, and Ginny quietly started the argument all over again. Molly heard them arguing about the distant between Russia and Ireland before the door to Ginny's room closed.
"Which pajamas do you want?" Arthur asked as Ginny bounced around her room.
"I'm being a gnome!" she announced. Arthur laughed a little, and pulled out her new ones Charlie had sent her from Hogsmeade.
"How about your dragon ones?"
"Yes! Charlie sent them to me, and he sent me a stuffed dragon, too! It doesn't breathe fire, though. Fred and George said they could make it breathe fire, but Mum wouldn't let them."
"Bless you, Molly," Arthur murmured.
"Charlie really likes dragons, you know. He told me so. He wants to go to… um… Rominia."
Arthur laughed at her mispronunciation of Romania. "I know. He's got quite a thing for dragons."
"He calls me the little dragon sometimes. Especially after I yell at Bill and ‘im because they won't do what I want them to…" Ginny yawned a little, and even though she was talking a mile a minute, Arthur knew she was winding down.
"What happened to being a gnome?" he asked as Ginny started to make huge leaps and spread out her arms, making swooshing sounds.
"Being a gnome's boring. I'm being a dragon."
"Not another child obsessed with dragons," Arthur moaned under his breath.
"Only, I don't really like dragons all that much. They're kind of scary. Can I be a fairy?"
"Of course. What would you do if you were a fairy?"
"Make flowers," Ginny said decisively. "I like flowers. ‘Specially roses. Mum and me planted roses yesterday."
"I know, I saw them. Come over here so I can get these on you, you little imp."
"What's an imp?" Ginny asked as she danced around the room, presumably acting like a fairy.
"Ginny Weasley," Arthur said, and Ginny laughed.
"Ginny Marie Weasley," she announced.
"That's your name, little one."
"I know that, silly!"
"Come on now, get over here or I'm never going to get to tell you a story."
"I want to hear the one about the frog and the princess… no, I want to hear the one about Cinderella! I like that one…" With that, Ginny hopped over to Arthur.
"Cinderella! I'm not sure I know that one!"
"Yes you do! You told me last week! She has the evil stepsisters, and the horrible step mum, and she gets to meet the prince, and…"
"Well, why tell it if you already know it?"
"It's my favorite. I want to hear all about it. Mum says I deserve a prince."
"Well, that's because you do."
"I don't want a prince," Ginny said impulsively.
"Why not?" Arthur asked as he tugged on the leg of a stubborn pajama bottom.
"Because you're not a prince. I want someone just like you."
Arthur blushed at the impromptu compliment. Ginny was too young to know just how much her statement meant to her father, but Arthur knew he would always remember it. Some called him eccentric, still others loony, but there was one thing Arthur was certain about: he was loony over his baby girl. Here she was, three years old, with the brownest eyes he'd ever seen, fiery red hair that she had inherited from both her mother and father. In her father's mind, she was the most beautiful little girl in the world.
"Thank you, sweetie. Into bed with you, now."
"Can you stay awake long enough to hear a story?"
"I'm not…" Ginny let out a huge yawn, "tired."
"Of course you're not. What was I thinking? Now, don't you go to sleep."
Ginny promptly closed her eyes and began to fake snore. It worked every time, Arthur thought, but he began the story anyway. "Once upon a time, in a far away land…" Ginny's eyes opened halfway, and by the time Cinderella and her handsome, handsome prince were waltzing in a ballroom, she was fast asleep.