Author’s Notes: Danke to my awesome beta for all her hard work struggling to teach me grammar.
There were reminders everywhere Arthur looked. His children, strong and healthy; in the lines now creasing the corners of her eyes, lines that only made her more beautiful; and in the day circled on the calendar in the kitchen, decorated with an artistic flare Molly had always possessed, the flare which made it possible for her to make such delicious food and her jumpers to be so warm. It might be a tad silly to admit it, but he had been counting down the days until August 30th, too.
It was with this in mind that he called a family meeting – making sure it was during Molly’s market time. That two-year-old Ginny was more interested in ingesting her hand than planning a surprise for her mum was irrelevant. Ron, too, was more interested in his teddy bear. The older boys, however, gave him their full attention. Even the twins were quiet for once.
“It’s that your mother and I are celebrating our fifteenth anniversary this year,” he began, “and I want to do something special for her.”
“What, Father?” asked Percy seriously.
“A surprise?” Curious, Bill raised one eyebrow, looking older than his thirteen years.
“Will it involve animals? Or fire?” Of course, with Charlie, everything needed to involve those two essential things.
“No,” Arthur said firmly. If he wasn’t careful, his surprise would get away with him. “No fire, or strange animals. Your mum puts up with a lot from all of us, not just you seven, but me, too. And next Monday we will do everything we can to make sure your mum has a good day.”
His children stared at him solemnly, a mixture of blue, brown and hazel eyes.
“What will we do?” Bill said, finally.
“Mrs. Lovegood has agreed to look after you for the day, so your mother and I can go out somewhere. She will come over here with Luna, and make sure none of you get into trouble.”
“Why can’t we go over to her house?” Fred complained.
“She has cool things there,” George whinged.
“Betcha that’s why.” Charlie grinned. “Mrs. L doesn’t want squirts like you messing up her stuff.” He ruffled the twins’ hair.
The pair looked at him, identical expressions of disdain on their freckled faces. Arthur laughed, softly.
“That’s it, in part,” he admitted. “Last time you painted her living room with pink slime.”
“That was s’pposed to happen!” Fred exclaimed.
“She said so!”
“Regardless, Mrs. Lovegood will be coming here, so your mother and I can go out for the day. You will be well behaved. No fighting. If Percy wants to read, you let him read. The twins are not to prank anyone. Don’t turn Ron’s teddy into anything. Ginny is to be watched carefully, although I’m sure Mrs. Lovegood can do that perfectly well. Bill, Charlie, keep an eye on your brothers and sister.”
“It’s a week away, Dad,” Bill reminded him carelessly. “What about the morning?”
“You will allow your mother to sleep in. I will cook breakfast.”
“Dad, you burn water,” George said bluntly.
“You’ll poison us all. Great present,” added Fred.
“I’m sure Mum will enjoy that.”
“I’ll order food from the bakery,” Arthur concluded doggedly. “I can make tea, at least.”
“And we just have to sleep in.” Percy took his glasses from his nose, shining them on the hem of his t-shirt.
“Yes.” Arthur was pleased they’d finally got it. “I want her to have a nice, relaxing day. Bill, Charlie, can you get up early to watch Ginny and Ron in the morning?”
“Just this one time.” Bill sighed, obviously resigning himself to an early morning on Monday.
“I’ll do Ginny!” Charlie said quickly, not wanting to be saddled with grumpy Ron. Ginny was quite happy to lay in her cot, staring at her Quidditch mobile. Ron needed attention. All Ginny needed was a nappy change and a bottle.
Molly came home at that moment, stopping the argument before it began. “There was a sale on leeks, so I bought some for dinner,” she said cheerily.
In unison, all five elder boys groaned, and stomped off to their respective pastimes.
“What did I say?”
The week passed quickly. Somewhere in between work and home, Arthur found time to buy Molly her gift. A gold ring, set with a glowing ruby. He knew very little about jewellery, but he did know that rubies were the fifteenth anniversary present. A ring represented eternal love.
Soon it was Monday. The morning dawned crisp and sunny, perfect weather for the surprises Arthur had planned. He arose early, made tea, and arranged the beautiful golden croissants, golden butter, and amber marmalade on a tray. With the elder boys keeping their siblings in line, he carried the tray up to the bedroom.
Molly sat up in bed, rubbing her eyes sleepily. The sunlight streaming through the windows highlighted her beautiful hair, which lacked none of the vibrancy it had possessed when they were sweethearts at Hogwarts. Through Arthur’s loving eyes, she was that girl yet, and if her figure had filled out after seven children, he saw nothing wrong with the new proportions.
“Arthur, how sweet.” Molly’s face lit up with a beautiful smile. “Thank you, darling.”
“Happy fifteenth anniversary, Mollywobbles.”
“Don’t call me that.” She didn’t mean it; her smile said as much. “You didn’t have to cook me anything...I could have done it. Where are the children?”
“Amusing themselves. And I didn’t; I’d never subject you to such a thing. Now, tuck in, we’ve a busy day ahead of us.”
Eyes twinkling, Molly did just that, alternating between dainty bites, and offerings of the sweet pastry to Arthur. They both thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and if Arthur used the excuse of a trace of marmalade at the corner of Molly’s mouth to kiss her, well, she wasn’t telling.
Things gradually progressed, as they are wont to do, and it was only the tap on the door that brought them back to themselves.
“Look at us!” Molly huffed, pushing back the bed sheets. “Snogging like a pair of teenagers when there’s work to be done!” She started towards the door, but was stopped by Arthur’s hand on her arm.
“Not today,” he said softly. “Today it’s just you and me. Andrea is coming by with Luna to look after the children. And you and I...well, I have a nice day planned, just for us. Go, shower and dress. I’m rather anxious to begin.”
Giggling, Molly turned to the wardrobe. “What kind of clothing, dear?” she asked.
“Muggle casual.” Molly was so much better at that than he was. He couldn’t quite figure why, but perhaps it was a woman thing. “Do I look all right?”
“Hmmm...” Lips pursed, Molly took in his choice of clothing. Corduroys and a pastel blue shirt with the sleeves rolled to his elbows. He’d seen similar things on the Muggles in the village. “You’ll do. Perhaps you should check on the children. It’s such a pity you’re already dressed. Otherwise we could have showered together...purely in the interest of saving water, of course.” Still giggling, she made her way into their ensuite bathroom.
Dazedly, Arthur ran a hand through his thinning hair. “Check on the children,” he muttered to himself, images of his beautiful wife dancing through his mind. “Right.”
Molly appeared just as Arthur was leading Andrea into the sitting room, where all seven Weasley children were gathered. The contrast between the two women was astounding. While Andrea, with her corn-silk hair gathered with a big floppy bow, wearing a pink crop top and black leggings, looked like a teenager, Molly was a little more sophisticated. Her curly hair was down, touching her shoulder blades, a bright red summer dress giving her a casual, yet put-together look. Andrea wore hightops, battered and practical. Molly’s footwear of choice was white ballet flats, which made her feet look tiny and graceful.
“Andrea, thank you for doing this.” Smiling, Molly embraced the other woman, being careful not to crush little Luna, who had inherited her mother’s hair, and her father’s eyes.
“You’re very welcome, Molly,” Andrea replied, gently setting Luna down on the baby rug next to Ginny. The two babies immediately gabbled at one another happily. “I’m rather glad for the chance to get away from my work, and chat with your charming children.” She ruffled Charlie’s hair gently, causing the eleven-year-old to smile at her, besotted.
Molly laughed. “Well, I can see they’re in good hands, and Arthur appears to be eager for us to be on our way.”
Arthur pretended he was anything but, doing his best to look completely innocent. “Oh, no, by all means, keep talking,” he said genially, slipping one hand into his pocket to pat Molly’s gift, assuring himself it was still there.
“Nonsense, you two go on and enjoy yourselves.” Andrea grinned, making shooing motions with her hands. “I have everything under control here.”
The pair stepped out into the sunlight.
“Where are we going?” asked Molly.
Arthur slipped his hand into hers. “I thought we’d go to Diagon Alley, browse the shops a bit.”
“Arthur, we’ve no money–” his wife began, forehead creasing.
“Incorrect, my dear. I’ve been putting aside a little each month for a while now, which is why I’ve accepted so much overtime.” Arthur smiled triumphantly, glad he’d managed to keep that much a surprise from her. “I thought we should have a proper day of it, and I’m sure the children won’t begrudge us a little enjoyment for ourselves.”
“But Arthur, what about school books? Bill will need new ones this year, and there’s the other expenses we’ll soon have to face,” Molly fretted.
“Don’t worry, I wasn’t planning on us going on a mass spending spree. I promise, we will only spend what we need to.” He sighed. “It’s times like this I wish I could give you everything you deserve. You deserve to be treated like a princess, and I treat you like a scullery maid.”
“No princess was ever as happy in her golden tower as I am in my kitchen, darling,” Molly promised. “In fifteen years, I have never once felt discontent. True, money is a worry, but all the gold in the world would be a poor fortune next to the treasures you have heaped upon me.”
Arthur felt his ears begin to burn. “Nonsense,” he said gruffly. “If we’re going to get to Diagon Alley, we’d best Apparate into London, now.”
Molly nodded. “I’ll meet you out the back of the Leaky Cauldron, then.” She Disapparated.
With a crack twice as loud as Molly’s soft pop, Arthur followed her.
Since it was a weekday morning in the school holidays, Diagon Alley was relatively quiet. There were a few young children racing about, as well as some of the elder Hogwarts years. However, most adults were at work, and it was only because Arthur had specifically asked for this day off that he, too, wasn’t at work. The Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Department was usually busier over the hols, not slower. Hand in hand, the pair strolled amiably down the cobbled street.
“Oh!” Molly clutched Arthur’s arm. “Let’s go into Eeylop’s, okay, Arthur? We need a new owl to replace Screet. I’ve had her since I began Hogwarts.”
“All right.” Arthur smiled down at her. He knew well Molly’s fondness for birds. She even managed to love their chickens, dumb animals that they were. “I’m pretty sure we can swing for an owl.” So long as they had enough for lunch, he didn’t care what they did, particularly. It was enough to be here with Molly, enjoying the sunshine, and though they’d been together over fifteen years, the fact that they were likely to be together five times that long made him happy. He felt a surge of gratitude for young Harry Potter, who had made that possible.
He followed Molly into the shop slowly, watching her flit from cage to cage, happily introducing herself to all the owls therein.
The shopkeeper came up to him quickly. “Ah, am I correct in thinking you want an owl?” he asked.
“Yes, we do.” Arthur didn’t take his eyes off Molly. She’d stopped beside a freestanding wooden cage, something that surprised him. Ordinarily, owls would not be kept in such cages, since they could easily chew through them. But then, all owls in captivity were required by law to be willing to live with wizards and witches. They could not be forced. Still, wooden cages were considered impractical, in any case.
Molly picked up the cage, bringing it over. “This one,” she said decisively.
“That owl is past its prime; surely you want a younger owl, one which will last for many years?” the shopkeeper said doubtfully.
“No.” Molly shook her head. “I want Errol.”
“Errol?” Arthur queried.
“That’s what I’ve named him.”
Arthur grinned. If she’d named him, there was nothing for it. Errol was theirs. Molly was very stubborn when it came to having things to love. He sometimes wondered if she’d been born with an empty heart, and was trying to fill it up. “How much?”
“Well, since the owl’s past its prime, and is pre-owned, I couldn’t charge more than seven Sickles,” the shopkeeper said slowly.
“Agreed.” Arthur fished seven silver coins out of his pocket, pressing them into the man’s hand. “Is the cage included?”
“Yes.” Reluctantly, the shopkeeper nodded his head, taking the money. “You also get a complimentary bag of owl treats. Have a nice day.”
They left the shop, and continued down the street, still hand in hand. Looped over her free arm was the birdcage.
“Why did you want Errol?” he asked as they walked.
“Because no one else did,” replied Molly simply. “If we didn’t take him, no one would. And he deserves to be loved just as much as all the other owls.”
That was his wife, his Mollywobbles. Kind and compassionate to the core. “Let’s have a picnic lunch in Hyde Park,” he suggested spontaneously. He’d meant to treat her to a restaurant, but...well, it would be more fun.
“You just want to be with Muggles,” Molly teased, resting her head against his arm. “Okay.”
“Great!” Look at me, getting excited over stale sandwiches in the park. Invariably, swans would steal them, too. “Let’s get some money changed, then head into London proper to go to a delicatessen.”
“Mmm...I like the way you think, Mr. Weasley.”
“Oh?” Arthur’s lips twitched. “Well, I’m thinking...” He kissed the top of her head. “Strawberries.”
“With cream,” he confirmed. “And...champagne.”
“Cold chicken, Caesar salad, and pate,” Molly ordered.
“Crackers and brie.”
“We’ll need to buy plates, cutlery, napkins and cups.”
“Plastic and paper will do,” Molly dismissed.
“And a blanket.”
“We can sit on our coats.”
He had no more objections. “All right, let’s go to Gringotts.” Patting his pocket, he brushed against the ring box. At the park, he decided.
He’d Transfigured his jumper into a blanket for them, and was feeding Molly strawberries and cream. She licked the spot of cream off her lower lip, and he smiled.
“I’ve one more surprise,” he said, reaching into his pocket.
“Another one? Oh, Arthur...”
“Wait until you’ve seen it before you gush, Molly,” he warned. “You mightn’t be that impressed in the end.”
“Nonsense, I’m sure I’ll–”
Arthur flipped open the box.
“Oh, Arthur it’s lovely...” she breathed, taking the ring out of the box and putting it on.
“Rubies for the fifteenth anniversary,” he said awkwardly. “I read that somewhere.”
“Oh...” She leant over and kissed him.
They came home late that night. Since he’d saved money on lunch, he took her out for dinner. It was delicious, but they wouldn’t have cared if the food tasted like sawdust. They were too wrapped up in each other.
“Everyone was very good,” Andrea said the moment they walked through the door. “Fred and George did a little accidental magic with the oven, but I cleaned it up. It turned out they were trying to make play dough whilst I was busy with Ginny and Luna. Ron may be teething a little still, but he went down for his nap all right. And Bill and Charlie spent the entire time doing homework. Oh, Percy finished his book, so I got Lachlan to bring a few over from home for him.” She stood, gathering both Luna’s nappy bag and Luna in one efficient movement. “Call on me anytime.” She smiled softly. “It was fun. Happy anniversary.”
“Thank you,” Molly called after her. They made their way upstairs, turning out Bill’s light, tucking Charlie back in, divesting the sleeping Percy of his book, and marking the place. Fred and George were asleep in the same bed, as usual, and Ron had shifted onto his stomach, so they fixed that, pausing to check on Ginny, too. She was sleeping soundly, clutching her doll.
“You know, I had fun today,” Molly said quietly as they changed for bed. “It was nice...being by ourselves, without having to worry about the children.”
“Oh?” Arthur pulled off his socks.
“Yes.” Molly nodded, as though she’d come to a decision. “Still, the best bit was coming home, and seeing my babies.”
“Mmm, I agree. It didn’t feel right.”
“No. You know, while rubies are nice, I prefer third anniversaries,” Molly said with a wink. “That’s when you get...leather.”
Arthur laughed. “I’ll keep that in mind.” He pulled her over to the bed. “Happy anniversary, Mrs. Weasley.”