It was a not so long time ago, in a Magical World not so far, far away.
“It’s time Arthur.”
Arthur Weasley looked down, his hands suddenly clammy, his breath short, and his heart hammering a sudden unsteady staccato under the tightness in his chest. It should be easier than this. He had been in this situation before; he would have thought that his nerves would have been used to this.
He had known this day would come. All the nerves, the tension, and the anticipation: it was all going to lead up to this moment. As he rose unsteadily to his feet, he glanced around at the other witches and wizards around him. He could feel their tension and nervous stares on him. Idly and subconsciously he reached into his pocket and fingered his wand lightly. The tension in the air was palatable. It hung in the air like a great dark cloud, casting its shadow on everything and everyone.
The war had been going on for far too long already. Molly had only recently lost her two brothers when some Death Eaters had ambushed their remote homestead. There had been so much loss and sacrifice already in his family--the constant fear of the war and the leaden weight of despair from their family’s sacrifices. Internally he winced as he recalled the fight with his dear wife when he tried to persuade her about the dangers of starting a family in the midst of this horrible war.
The row had been massive. He was not sure how the little home he had set up outside Ottery St. Catchpole had even survived. They say red-haired people are passionate, and in Molly’s case … the creative powers just went overboard. Eventually, as in most things, Arthur Weasley had given in to his wife and watched his family grow larger--one child following another—each an additional red-headed bundle of joy. They had done all this with the specter of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named hovering over all of them.
Molly had pushed for him to join the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts office at the Ministry. She adamantly argued it was the perfect place for him. As usual she had been right, not because it was a relatively safe department, but because he had found himself fascinated with Muggles. He allowed a small smile to cross his good-natured face when he remembered Molly’s initial reaction to the first time he had tinkered with a Muggle Probane tank. He had been explaining how it was a canister that contained the magical accelerant that Muggles used to cook food over an outside grill called a PPQ. The resulting explosion had been an interesting side effect to his experimentation, which had ruined her kitchen. Consequently all further experimentations had been summarily banned from the main house and now took place in his shed outside.
His momentary detour into happy thoughts vanished like a drop of water in the bottom of a hot cauldron when a scream reverberated hauntingly down through the halls. His nervous shuffling paused for a moment as he considered the scream. It had been a scream of pain, but underlying that shriek was an element of success. There was only silence from the door at the end of the hall. His hand slid back into his pocket. This time instead of fingering his wand, he grasped it firmly. Rationally he knew he should not be nervous, but he couldn’t help it.
The thought of what awaited him on the other side of that door was daunting. It was that thought that kept his feet firmly planted in the hallway just steps away from his destination. In a brief moment of clarity he knew that in this case it was different than before. The first time had been bad, but by the time he had gotten to the sixth, he had become numb to it. This time what waited for him was worse, far worse than anything he had dealt with yet: A gift, both terrible and frightening, a gift that any father would cherish above all others, and a gift that also brought the most fear to any father in the Magical or Muggle world.
The door now loomed large in front of his nose. He could feel a tickle of sweat work its way down the side of his face. He had not even realized that his betraying feet had even brought him here. Shakily he raised his hand and pushed on the door. It creaked open at his touch, announcing his arrival more clearly than if a phoenix had appeared and burst into song.
The gathered witches and wizards turned at his entrance and stared at him in silence. There was a flicker of a smile here and there, and a barely perceptible nod of encouragement. He missed these signs as he gazed intently upon his beautiful wife. Her hair was plastered to her flushed face and poked up in odd places around her head. Her eyes were rimmed in dark circles, and her glorious lush lips were pulled into a tired, yet triumphant smile. As in those many previous times, Arthur was again struck silly at his beautiful and radiant wife.
“Arthur.” His wife called to him softly.
In moments like this Arthur sometimes expected Molly to change into a phoenix, since truly her voice trilled like Phoenix song. “I’m here dear.”
“Come closer and see.”
“Hello, beautiful.” He whispered softly to the love of his life as he gently bent over and brushed a feather light kiss on her lips.
“Say hello to your daughter.”
Arthur Weasley finally turned to the bundle of joy sleeping quietly on his wife’s chest. The only part of her visible was a swath of brilliant red hair. “And Arthur Weasley bats seven out of seven on the red hair,” he thought with a grin. Gently he picked up his new daughter and cradled her lovingly to his chest. With thick fingers he pulled the cloth back from his darling daughter’s face. She woke and looked up at him with the largest liquid chocolate eyes that he had ever seen. He bent down and gave her a soft kiss and welcomed his daughter into the family. “Hello Ginny; I’m your daddy.”
Dedicated to my wonderful beta Kelleypen. Happy Anniversary to you and yours!