Monday was easy. Arthur read the paper over his morning tea and toast like usual but then slipped the Daily Prophet out of the house with him rather than leaving it behind for Molly to read during the younger children's nap. Fortunately for him, less so for Molly, the almost five-year-old twins had suddenly decided they were too old for naps and she never noticed the missing paper.
When Arthur got home on Tuesday, Molly immediately commented on the lack of the paper. Apparently the twins, Ron, and Ginny had all settled down for long naps after lunch and Charlie and Percy had managed to play together without fighting for an entire hour. She had the golden opportunity to catch up on the news of the world, but had no paper to read. He apologized for having left with it that morning and wondered how long he would really have to keep doing this.
On Wednesday, as he gave his wife a quick peck on the cheek and slipped out of the house with their Daily Prophet hidden in his cloak for the third morning in a row, Arthur felt a twinge of guilt. As soon as he got to work, he dashed off a quick note, and sent the fastest owl he could find at the Ministry winging towards Hogwarts to enlist the aid of his eldest son. That night, Molly filled him in on everything their first-year son had been doing and positively glowed as she mentioned several times that this was the longest letter Bill had ever written and it had taken her all afternoon, reading it in snatches here and there around handling the other children, to finish it. Arthur smiled and nodded and tried not to laugh as he thought of Bill's note that he had left at work in which the boy had agreed to write to his mother on the condition that she would eventually be told of his part in everything and he would not have to spend any of his own meager pocket money to get her a Valentine's Day present.
By Thursday, he was beginning to worry that his gamble would fail and all his effort would be for nothing. Worse than nothing, since he would have even less to spend on a gift than if he had never tried. Valentine's Day was Monday. If he had no luck by the end of the day tomorrow, it would be too late. Still, he had managed to slip out of the house with the Daily Prophet for the fourth day in a row. At least Molly hadn't caught him, yet.
On Friday, Arthur came into his office and fell back into his chair with a loud sigh as he threw the Daily Prophet on his desk in disgust. Last night had been terrible. The children were all running mild fevers. Nothing dangerous, just enough that they were tired, and were either asleep or awake and cranky about being so. Their sleeping left Molly with enough time to realize that she had not read the news all week and could not find a single Prophet in the house and their crankiness rubbed off to make her angrier about that than usual. She had still been mad that morning and was largely ignoring him. Which was the only reason he'd been able to slip out of the house with the paper yet again. He didn't know why he was bothering any more. He was out of time and this would only make matters worse. At least this was the last day.
On Saturday, he had to take Percy to St. Mungo's. Of all the children, he was the only one whose fever had not abated and Molly was getting worried. Too worried, in fact, to have noticed Friday's missing paper. After getting a potion for Percy and being assured that his son was not contagious and would be fine, Arthur decided to stop by the Ministry for one last check before admitting defeat. There, waiting on his desk, was the letter he had been hoping for. In a flurry of owls, including one to Molly to assure her Percy was fine, Arthur had just been called into the office for a bit, and they would both be home soon, Arthur quickly made all the necessary arrangements. Percy was perfectly content to sit at his father's desk, pretending to write memos and letters of his own, and was quite disappointed when they had to leave to go to Diagon Alley. By the time they returned home, it was getting late, Arthur was the happiest he had been in a week, and six-year-old Percy was sound asleep in his father's arms.
On Sunday, he was caught.
At the sharp tone of her voice, he quickly looked up from the storybook he was reading to Ron, who sat on his lap, expecting to find one of the other children pestering her while she snatched a moment to read the first paper she'd had her hands on in a week. But the twins and Charlie were still playing their game in the corner and Percy was still helping Ginny as she toddled about the room with her hesitant little steps.
"What is this advertisement?"
Arthur could feel all the blood rushing from his face and knew he was turning rather pale. His classified advertisement could not still be running. He had only paid for five days. Trying to keep his voice steady, he asked, "Wh- ahem what advertisement, dear?"
"This one offering your Muggle batteries for sale."
Arthur winced as a tiny voice in the back of his mind whispered vaguely about the man at the Prophet office explaining to him they were offering a special of one free advertisement in an issue of theSunday Prophet with the purchase of five days in the Daily Prophet. "It's nothing, Mollywobbles. Just clearing out some room in the shed."
Her eyes had narrowed at his use of her nickname and he knew it was too much and she didn't believe a word he said.
"Arthur Weasley. I want to know what you are doing and I want to know this instant."
With a mental shrug and without taking his eyes from her face, he said "Charlie, go look in the pockets of my cloak for a small box and bring it to me, please."
They waited in silence, except for the occasional babble from Ginny, until Charlie returned with a black box, tied shut with a simple red ribbon. Arthur traded Charlie Ron for the box and walked over to Molly's chair. He held it out to her with a softly whispered, "Happy Valentine's Day."
Her hand flew to her mouth and her cheeks flushed. "Oh, Arthur."
She made no move to take the box from him and he moved it a little closer to her.
"Shouldn't we wait for tomorrow?"
He smiled and shook his head no. "I'll be at work all day tomorrow anyway. Go on. Open it."
With trembling fingers, she untied the box and slowly flipped it open. He thought she gasped "Oh, Arthur," again, but wasn't certain since the children were suddenly surrounding them. Over the general cacophony of "Let me see," and "What is it, Mum?" he could only clearly hear Percy's "I know what it is. I saw it yesterday."
With tears shining in her eyes, Molly held her gift out for the children to see. Charlie still carried Ron and Arthur picked up Ginny from where she was crawling around their feet so everyone was able to see the gold heart pendant and chain nestled in the box. At the top of the heart were two white diamonds. Each of the two sides held three blue gemstones, evenly spaced around the edge. At the bottom point was a single pink gem. The boys oohed and awed for a moment but quickly lost interest in the necklace, and Ginny's only concern with it was whether she'd be allowed to put it in her mouth. When it was clearly established the answer to that was "No," she too lost interest and wanted down to crawl off in search of something else to chew.
With the children dispersed, Arthur knelt beside Molly's chair, removed the necklace from its box, and shuffled around to carefully latch it around her neck.
"You sold your batteries to buy me this."
"Yes, dear. It was close, though. I just sold them yesterday. And, um… the gems aren't real. It's the best…"
She hushed him with a soft and gentle kiss. "I love it. It's perfect," she whispered as she drew back.
He smiled, and then suddenly remembered his promise to his eldest. "Oh. Bill wants you to know he was in on all this and that letter is part of your Valentine's present and he loves you."
"He's such a good boy. I'll go write him a letter to thank him," she said, her hand moving to the necklace at her throat, rubbing at the heart. "I'll thank you later," she added with a half a wink in Arthur's direction as she pulled away and began to rise from the chair.