And we're back with the headcanon round of QLFC! :) To my judge: the prompt I was given is listed down at the bottom of the story - why give away the fun, right?
This was an unusual story for me. It's a bit of a departure, but it was a fun little break. And I don't think it's necessarily too far off-base; just not my usual style. ANYWAY, I hope you all get a giggle or two! :)
6 February 2010
Arthur Weasley's sixtieth birthday party was a grand affair; true to Molly's tradition (once the family had gotten too large to entertain all at once), they had flung open the doors of the Burrow and issued a standing open invitation to friends and family alike to drop by and visit for as long as they wished. It had been a thoroughly pleasant afternoon. A decent crowd had gathered by dinnertime when they delved into all of Molly's best cooking, which included an enormous birthday cake in the shape of an old-fashioned Muggle television set (Arthur had given her an extra kiss for that).
By now, the youngest of the Weasleys and Weasleys-adjacent ranged in age from twelve (though Teddy, the adopted Weasley grandchild, was away at Hogwarts) all the way down to negative-seven-months (Percy and Audrey had just announced the impending arrival of their second child, due in early September). The children scarpered about the party, in and out of doors, usually forgetting to put on sweaters and scarves, playing with their pet Pygmy Puffs and providing no small amount of background racket for whenever things became too quiet.
After dinner and birthday cake, the 'adults' party, which also featured a number of the smaller grandchildren (those below scarpering age) had dwindled down to mostly just the immediate family, plus a few spares – Andromeda Tonks, Kingsley and Hestia Shacklebolt and their young daughter Cleo, and Minerva McGonagall among them. Arthur had settled into his favorite chair, which Molly had centered before the fireplace, and they were all gathered about, chatting and watching Arthur open gifts.
"Now, what could this be?" Arthur asked, as Lily crept towards him, holding a medium-sized rectangular box that was wrapped in yellow paper and bore a large red bow. She was beaming mischievously, as only a three-year-old can. Arthur never played favorites, of course, but Lily's smile was identical to her mother's, and that certainly tipped the scales in her favor when she wanted time with Granddad. She placed the package on his knees, practically vibrating with excitement as Harry and Ginny looked on, amused.
"Will you help me open it, Pixie?" Arthur asked Lily.
"All right, up you get—"
Lily clambered onto his lap, and she tore off the bow, casting it aside at once. Then they each pinched a corner of the golden paper and—
"Hope you're feeling clever, Arthur," Harry called.
Arthur looked up at him, bewildered for a moment, and then back down at the package in his lap. It was a flattish box, with a photograph of some kind of picture frame on the front. Tiny squares of different bright colors floated in a blue sky within the black borders of the picture frame.
"Eye-patch, Granddad," said Lily, who had her fingers in her mouth. She pointed her free hand at the picture on the box. "You c'n play a game on it."
Heads were now turning to look at Arthur and Lily, together in the chair; those who had been deep in conversation before were now curious at the sudden lull in the gift-opening.
"Not an eye-patch, Lily," Ginny laughed, sitting forward as Harry disentangled himself from her and approached Arthur's chair. "It's an iPad, Dad."
"A what?" Minerva and Molly asked at the same time, in equally incredulous tones, as Kingsley began to laugh.
"It's a Muggle device," he chuckled, looking around at Hestia, who was stifling giggles behind her hand. Cleo was squirming in his arms, giggling at the sound of her father's laugh. "They use them to play games, look things up, talk to friends… that sort of thing."
"We just got wireless internet over at ours," Hestia agreed. "We don't use it much, to be honest, but it's a bit of a novelty."
"The Muggle government uses it. That's why I have it," said Kingsley. He raised his butterbeer and grinned. "Hermione helped us figure out how to get it working through the magical interference, didn't you?"
Hermione grinned back. "On a small scale, anyway." She turned to Arthur. "That's why we thought you'd like it, Arthur."
Minerva covered her eyes with one hand. "I believe I am officially too old to be involved in this conversation."
"Are you saying that thing has—some kind of library in it?" Molly asked Kingsley, with heavy skepticism. "How?"
"No… Mum…" George began with a pained sigh, and he, Angelina, and Hermione all began attempting to explain – with varying degrees of misinformation—how technology and the internet.
"It should be all set up," Harry said, crouching down next to Arthur's chair and easing the lid off the box to reveal a glossy black object. "Hermione and I tinkered with it a bit… put a few Charms on the Muggle neighbors' internet access… Arthur?"
For the one person who had not spoken in all of this was Arthur himself. He simply sat clutching his granddaughter close to his chest, his eyes wide on the sleek black rectangle in Harry's hand. The room went silent.
"All right there, Dad?" Bill asked from behind the sofa.
Harry pressed some unseen button on the device, and a small white picture of an apple missing a bite appeared on the screen. Arthur blinked in surprise.
"Do you mean… you mean, this…" he looked at Harry. "It connects to… whiffy?"
Harry winced slightly, but he grinned. "Yeah. Yeah, Arthur, you're connected to the internet."
The screen of the iPad suddenly blazed white and a single word appeared— Hello.
From then on, it was bedlam—at least as far as Molly was concerned. Arthur was glued to his device, looking up the strangest things in its library. He downloaded every single button (what did Harry call them? Naps?) he could for the wretched thing, so that he could never find what he wanted when he wanted it. Because of this, he was forever talking to the machine, which would answer him in a chirrupy voice, bringing up the correct item he was looking for.
Once, about two months after his birthday, Molly was caught unawares by a blinding flash of white light and a maniacal laugh as she stirred a pot of soup in the kitchen.
"I finally worked out the camera, Mollywobbles!" Arthur crowed joyously, before positively fleeing the room at the look on her face.
On the anniversary of their elopement, they had a little spat about what exactly the weather had been like on that day, and Arthur had irritated her by producing some kind of ironclad proof he had found on the little machine.
When they would sit together reading at night after dinner, Molly would find herself constantly interrupted by little bursts of laughter emanating from the fully grown man playing with a Muggle toy beside her.
The worst was the day that Harry showed Arthur how to put music on the stupid thing. Molly banned it from their bedroom ("You can have exactly one of us in that bed with you, Arthur Weasley!") because of the week where she was woken up at four in the morning by a musical alarm Arthur could not disable.
But even if it weren't for all of this, the device didn't seem to know anything at all about the magical world, and therefore couldn't offer anything to Molly that she didn't already have in her own collection of books.
This, predictably, was no deterrent for her husband. He would show her pictures (she had to admit that once he had figured out how to use the camera, the ones he took of the babies were very sweet), try to teach her how to find , leave it somewhere conspicuous playing videos or music he thought she'd like, and just generally be a pest.
"You'll like it if you try it, Mollywobbles! I promise!" he would swear every time she marched from the kitchen with the machine, dropping it unceremoniously in his lap.
"Your next wife can try it, Arthur, not me!" she would call back waspishly as she left the room.
One afternoon in late August—the day after yet another squabble about the inordinate amounts of time Arthur spent on his device—Arthur came home early from work. It was a day when Molly didn't watch any of the little ones, so he felt sure that a grand gesture, like arriving with a bouquet, a package of pumpkin pasties, and an offer of a romantic dinner out would go a long way to improving her mood on an already peaceful day.
He quietly slipped in the kitchen door, thinking that he might surprise Molly there—but she was nowhere to be seen. Suddenly, Arthur's heart began to pound. In his head, he was being transported back ten years, to when Molly had fallen so ill with a relapse of dragon pox that she'd been hospitalized for weeks. She had put her back out last week, he thought frantically, and that was how it started the last time...
Already halfway through a diagnosis in his head, Arthur headed for the upstairs.
"Molly?" he called, striding quickly and purposefully towards the sitting room and the stairs beyond. "Molly, are you here?"
He didn't really remember ascending the stairs; he simply knew that it felt like ages before he finally reached their bedroom. The door was shut, and there was a funny muffled sound coming from behind it. He leapt forward and flung it open. The resulting thud of the door hitting wall and his sudden appearance in the room was enough to make Molly shriek in surprise. Arthur's jaw dropped.
Molly, his beloved wife of forty years, was sitting in the middle of their bed in her pajamas. There was an open box of Sugar Mice on a pillow beside her, and on her lap was his iPad. It was playing a video. There came a sudden noise like a large group of people laughing, and Arthur had a brief glimpse of a blonde woman with big blue eyes before Molly managed to click the 'off' button.
She looked mortified. "You—you're—" she swallowed, "you're home early."
"What were you watching?" Arthur asked, with an amused chuckle. He still held the flowers and pasties.
"I was—nothing, I—it turned on by accident…" Molly turned a deep shade of red.
"How did you figure out my code?" he asked, moving to sit down beside her and picking up his iPad.
"Our anniversary?" Molly scoffed at once, and Arthur laughed. She turned pink again, but looked significantly less embarrassed. She took a deep breath. "I will admit… under duress… that it's a fairly fun little thing."
"What app is this?" Arthur asked interestedly, clicking open the video that Molly had been watching.
"It's called Netflix. Hermione put it on there for me when I hurt my back last week," said Molly sheepishly. Then, rather excitedly, she sat forward and pointed at the blonde woman's face, which was frozen on the screen, a sideways triangle hovering over her, waiting to continue the video. "That's an old Muggle television show. It's about witches."
Arthur laughed. "Really?"
"Well, they're nothing like us," Molly scoffed. "This one, Samantha—she's a dear, but she's living like a Muggle. I think she might be a Squib," she added in a conspiratorial whisper.
"Well, let's see it, then." Molly beamed. Arthur slipped his arm around her and they scooted back to lean against the headrest. "And I'll remember to tease you about this later," he added, as he unwrapped her pumpkin pasties and offered her one.
This is the headcanon I was given by Chaser 1 of the Wasps - "At some point, Arthur Weasley got a laptop/tablet for his birthday. He spent hours using it (surfing the internet in particular) and although Molly scolded him for it, she'd sometimes too, especially when he wasn't at home."