Disclaimer: The Harry Potter Universe belongs to J.K. Rowling. I’m just borrowing the characters for a while. This is for pleasure only, no profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.
A/N: This is an outtake from St Margaret’s delightful story, A Time To Remember. She sent Arthur and Molly out to look at Muggle Christmas lights and I could not resist writing my version of what happened next as a birthday gift for her. This story might make more sense if you read Chapter 11 and Chapter 12 of her excellent story. I have blatantly borrowed her characters, as is my wont.
‘Tell me again how you came to borrow the Ministry car,’ said Molly as she and Arthur walked together out into the garden of The Burrow. He carried a thick blanket and she had a thermos flask of tea with quite a bit of Ogden’s Finest in it. Christmas Eve was seasonally cold so it would not do to be without something to warm them besides the usual Warming Charms. As they made their way around Arthur’s shed, they could see the car’s official-looking black bonnet that gleamed in the bright moonlight. Ministry flags fluttered on either side.
‘This car was returned, relatively unharmed, after Peabody had already left for Majorca with his wife and teen-age son,’ said Arthur cheerfully. ‘There had been some foolishness earlier when someone stole it for a joy ride, but the car eventually escaped from whoever took it. The garage attendant told me that the Auror who recovered it and drove it back to London told him that it was a bit skittish. I noticed that it gave cattle a wide berth on the drive here.’
‘Stolen for a joy ride? An official Ministry car? I thought they were enchanted so they could only be operated by a witch or wizard with good intentions,’ Molly commented as they walked around the sedan. She noticed a long jagged scratch along the driver’s side. The Ministry car gave a shudder as Arthur opened the door on the passenger side and seated Molly, tucking the blanket around her. She gave the seat a little pat and said, ‘This is nice and comfy.’
Arthur took his seat behind the steering wheel and began stroking it lightly. ‘Remember me?’ he whispered. ‘This is my wife, Molly, and we want to look at some Muggle Christmas decorations.’ The car did not move. ‘The mechanic thinks it was traumatized while it was borrowed and needs to feel appreciated again. Do you suppose you could stroke the steering wheel and say something complimentary?’
Molly leaned over toward the steering wheel and began talking in a soft voice while giving the wheel slight pats. ‘You’re a lovely big car with very soft seats and a nice clean windscreen. You would make us very comfortable while we were looking for some pretty lights.’ The engine purred softly and Molly could feel warm air rising around her ankles. ‘You’re doing a good job,’ she murmured as the car began to move.
‘The town centre at Ottery St Catchpole has a rather large decorated tree,’ said Arthur, absent-mindedly patting the wheel in front of him to encourage the car to keep moving. ‘Maybe it would take us there first if you’d ask it.’
Molly scooted closer to Arthur. ‘Only if you put your arm around me,’ she said in a husky voice. The car swayed a bit. “Easy now. We want to go see the big tree with lights in the village.’ The car sped up and took them into Ottery St Catchpole and pulled up close to a large evergreen tree with multi-colored lights strung on it.
‘The light bulbs are much bigger then fairies and give more light so you can see the tree from quite a distance,’ said Arthur. ‘I thought that the bulbs were for some sort of special flower, but Harry says they are just glass balls with a special metal wire in them. The eckeltricity, I mean to say e-lec-tric-ity, gets into them through metal parts that screw into the plastic holders that are connected with wire. They have a plug at one end.’ Arthur sounded very proud that he could explain how Christmas lights worked.
Molly snuggled a bit closer and peered up through the windscreen. “There are many pretty colours and it looks like there is a star on the top.’
‘Yes, you are quite correct, my dear Mollywobbles,’ said Arthur, cuddling her. ‘The star is a very important Christmas symbol. Long ago, three wizards followed a very bright star that hung over a stable where a baby boy was born. They had heard a prophecy that he was the Son of God.’
‘How do the Muggles get the star up on top of that tall tree without being able to levitate it?’ asked Molly. ‘Some of those bulb things are very high, too.’
‘Muggles are very clever. They have a truck with a basket on a long pole. It can move up and down because of a hydraulic lift. A worker gets in the basket and it goes up so he can fix fellytone poles or other things in high places. I don’t know why, but they call it a ‘cherry-picker’. I guess they must use it to reach ripe cherries that are up high and to fix wires onto fellytone poles or put Christmas lights on trees the rest of the year.’
Molly nodded. ‘I remember that you told the boys that fellytone poles are like cabers, only with wires.’ She unscrewed the thermos and poured some hot liquid into the lid. ‘Would you like a bit of tea before we go and look for more lights?’
Arthur sighed as he drank a little of the tea laced with Firewhisky. ‘Just the thing for a cold winter night,’ he said as he handed the lid back to her. ‘It will warm you right up. It must be nearly time to turn on the mobile wireless for Celestina Warbeck’s Christmas Eve Special.’
Molly finished drinking the tea in the lid and pressed the power button for the built-in radio. Very loud sounds filled the car. Molly covered her ears as The Weird Sisters’ Myron Wagtail bellowed over the bagpipes, ‘You’re so Hot When it’s so Cold.’ The car began to shake and Molly quickly pushed another button to make the station change to WWN One. She also lowered the volume a great deal. Glenda Chittock’s dulcet tones began wishing witches and wizards everywhere a Happy Christmas and advertising the latest Celestina Warbeck album, A Charmed Christmas.
Arthur stroked the steering wheel and spoke in a gentle voice, ‘I promise we will play only soft music. Please find us some other Muggle decorations.’ The Ministry car headed north. ‘I’d say that it was definitely teenagers who took the car. The station that they play is not to my taste, but I guess it was good business to start WWN Two after the war. The young people have their own music and the hearing losses that go along with listening to it.’
Molly nodded as she turned her attention to Celestina Warbeck singing, ‘You Stole My Cauldron But You Can’t Have my Heart.’ It was her special Christmas version where she substituted various Christmas items for Cauldron. Molly sang along in a quiet voice about a stolen cracker and a stolen wreath.
The car stopped in front of a shop with windows full of toys. The coloured lights around the windows seemed to move. ‘How do they make the lights chase each other around the window?’ asked Molly, distracted from Celestina singing about her stolen Christmas pudding. She unscrewed the thermos flask and poured Arthur another lid full of tea.
‘It’s very clever. The lights turn off and on in sequence so it looks like they are actually moving,’ replied Arthur. He took a sip of the tea and said, ‘I shouldn’t drink any more of this while I am driving.’
‘The car drives itself,’ pointed out Molly and drank the rest of the tea in the lid. Celestina began singing, ‘All I Want For Christmas Is My Own Special Witch.’ Molly began to weep, just a little. ‘Do you think that Ginny will ever remember what it’s like to want to be the special witch in Harry’s arms? It’s so sad that she can’t remember how much in love they were.’
Arthur conjured a handkerchief and handed it to her as he comforted her and kissed her tenderly. ‘Harry has been very patient with her. He didn’t even want her to know that they were engaged.’
Molly could feel her tears start up again. ‘All our other children are so happy. Bill and Fleur are adding to their family. Charlie and Kathleen are so well suited to each other. Percy is getting married next week to someone who knows all the actors on Days of Destiny,’ Molly sobbed and blew her nose. ‘George is sure that Padma understands how much he misses Fred because she almost lost Parvati in the war. Ron has Hermione to take care of him.’ She pressed herself as close to Arthur as was possible with the steering wheel in front of him. ‘Am I wrong to want the strong love we have enjoyed for all our children?’
Arthur pulled Molly even closer. ‘Of course it’s not wrong, Mollywobbles. What we have is very special and we want our children to find and be with the special someone who suits them. However, we have to accept that Ginny’s memories of how she felt about Harry before the accident may never fully return. She seems to be beginning to remember the high and low points of their relationship. Maybe the best thing they can do is to make more happy memories, starting now.’
Molly nodded. ‘You’re always right, Arthur. It’s in my nature to wish for perfection and complain about everything that does not meet my expectations but you keep me balanced because you see the bright side of everything.’
‘Speaking of bright, let’s find some more bright lights,’ said Arthur, stroking the wheel. The car began heading for the outskirts of town and stopped on a hill overlooking a new development where some of the houses had lights strung along their eaves or in shrubbery.
Molly began to feel slightly light-headed as Arthur began to explain how Muggles chose what colour lights to display. ‘The various colours signify different things. Red and green are traditional Muggle Christmas colours. I think the all white lights are for those who like winter sports. See, some of them hang down just like icicles. I’ve heard that the blue and white ones mean either that the Muggles are Jewish or belong to the Conservative party. They also might mean that those who display them are in favor of a free Scotland.’
‘What about the multi-colored ones?’ asked Molly in a sleepy voice.
‘Maybe they are multi-cultural statements,’ said Arthur, absently, as Molly put her head on his shoulder.
‘I’ve never seen so many decorated houses,’ said Molly softly. ‘The lights are so pretty. Ginny and Kathleen don’t know what they’re missing. However, I’m glad we’re all by ourselves. Remember our second Christmas all alone the year before Bill was born?’
“I remember every Christmas with you,’ said Arthur in a warm voice. ‘I think the second Christmas after we were married was the last one we’ve spent with just the two of us. It was very romantic. I remember that the bed in the hotel room was very comfortable.’
Celestina Warbeck was singing on and on about a Magical New Year’s Eve but Molly didn’t feel like singing along any more. She wanted to go home to her own bed and cuddle with the one she loved. She sighed contentedly. ‘Let’s go home and enjoy our usual Christmas celebration.’
‘Your wish is my command, my dear Mollywobbles.’ He patted the wheel and asked, ‘May I call you James?’ He cuddled Molly closer and turned the mobile radio off. ‘Take us home, James.’