A/N: Yup, it's the third in this little series. Just a word of warning; these will not go in order of the children's ages, but they will go in order chronologically. This one's Percy's, and it doesn't focus quite so much on what Molly has sacrificed or gone through as the other two have, but...it still sort of fits me theme. Charlie is probably going to be next, but no promises on that. Hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own the Weasleys, although I have been told that I practically AM Molly Weasley and that I should be getting paid royalties. I also have no claim to any of T.H. White's books, except my own worn paperback copies.
Molly worried about Percy. Ever since he was just a small child, he never seemed to fit in with the rest of her children. Bill and Charlie were the older boys, and they were best friends. Fred and George had one another, of course, in all their trouble-making and pranks. As the youngest, Ron and Ginny had a certain bond, as well, although Ron would occasionally gang up on Ginny with the other boys. But Percy had no one. Molly was proud of his accomplishments, of course, proud of what a good child he had always been. Still, she worried.
Now, he sat alone in the living room with his nose in a book while the other children were outside enjoying the first few days of summer vacation. Even Bill, who was going to start work at Gringotts in a few days and had plenty of things to finish up before then, was outside soaking up the sunshine. Molly would glance in on Percy once in a while as she washed dishes, trying to think of something to talk to him about. She didn't understand him, never had. It wasn't his intelligence that confused her; all her children were bright, and she and Arthur had both been Prefects at Hogwarts. It was his quite nature that she couldn't grasp, and it was because of this she found it so hard to communicate with him. No one else in the family was so withdrawn and quiet.
Molly mulled over the mystery that was Percy in her head as she stood in the doorway of the living room, drying her hands on a dish towel. Then, quite suddenly, she decided to speak. "What are you reading, Percy?"
The question caused the bespectacled boy to jump, startled, and for a moment Molly was sorry she disturbed him. But he answered, a bit shyly,
"The Sword in the Stone."
Molly was a little surprised; the book was historical fiction in their world, but she knew the author was a Muggle and that many wizards considered the literature to be inferior, no matter how much of it was based on truth. A smile crept onto her face as she moved to sit beside her son on the couch.
"That's your father's copy, I'd wager. Was it on the shelf?" she asked, almost knowingly. Percy returned the smile and nodded a little. "He used to read books like that constantly...said he loved to see how our stories got retold in the Muggle world. Mr. White has a knack for getting things pretty close to the truth, actually...some people claim his grandmum was a witch and told him our histories."
"I didn't know Dad liked to read," Percy said when she finished speaking, still pondering over her first statement. Molly smiled and sighed a little.
"I don't suppose you children really remember him reading anything other than bedtime stories and the Daily Prophet," she replied. "Your father loves to read, Percy...he and I both do, really. There just isn't time for things like that anymore." Silence fell between them as each one pondered how much life had changed for the Weasley parents over the years. Molly thought back to when she and Arthur were young together, with no worries in the world besides exams and how to sneak out of Gryffindor tower without being caught, while Percy tried to fathom his parents ever being young at all. Finally, it was Percy who spoke, trying to lighten the mood.
"Did you like T.H. White, too? he asked. Molly chuckled.
"Yes, actually. Arthur got me started reading his books...all the ones about Merlyn, of course, but my favorite was a book about the Lilliputians. Mistress Masham's Repose." She paused, then asked, "Would you like to read it?"
Percy grinned at her and nodded, and her heart melted at the sight. It was so rare that a true grin graced his solemn features...she felt as though she had just done something really right. Even though she was the mother of seven children, there was always something new to learn about each of them and about parenting in general; they taught her more than she felt she could ever teach them, and at the moment, she had broken through to this imaginative side of Percy she hadn't even been sure still existed. She grinned back and stood up from the couch, heading over to the bookshelf in the living room corner. Most of the books were worn and some were slightly tattered, but all were well-loved.
"This was the first gift your father ever gave to me," she said fondly, pulling the book out of his place and running her fingers over the paperback cover. She paused before handing the novel to Percy, studying the red-haired boy who was already taller than she was. "I never knew you liked books like these," she commented.
"Well, only when I have time," Percy replied hurriedly as he took the book. "When I'm through with my studies, of course."
"Of course," Molly replied seriously, then smiled. Percy hesitated, looking over the book in his hand, then held it back out to his mother.
"May I borrow it later, Mum? I want to finish reading this one before I start something new," he added, holding up The Sword in the Stone with his index finger marking his page. Molly nodded.
"Of course, dear. And why don't you go outside to read? It's a lovely day," she added. Percy nodded in agreement, and with another grin in her direction, he disappeared out the front door.
Molly smiled to herself as she went back into the kitchen and began putting the dishes away. She sometimes did things like this by hand; cleaning charms were useful, but she liked doing some housework herself. It helped her get her thoughts together. At the moment, her thoughts were still on Percy; she was so thrilled that she had discovered this new side of him. He was more like his father than even he realized; a little ironic, since most people seemed to think Percy took after her. But no, he had the shy side of him that was completely Arthur, as well as Arthur's patience and mild manners (until the twins started picking on him).
She nearly dropped the saucer she was holding when Arthur's arms encircled her waist from behind. "Arthur Weasley!" she gasped, startled. "Don't sneak up on me like that! You've scared the daylights out of me!" He chuckled as she turned in his arms to face him. "What are you doing home so soon?" Arthur was still working the day-shift; in the summer, he usually tried to work nights so that he would have the days to spend with his children while they were home from Hogwarts, but the new schedule hadn't taken affect yet.
"Things were slow at the office, so I clocked out early," he replied, leaning down to give her a quick kiss. "It's such a lovely day, I thought it'd be nice to have a picnic with one of my favorite redheaded girls."
"Well, I'm sorry, but Ginny's already had her lunch, and I won't have you spoiling her supper," Molly replied airily, detaching herself from his embrace. Arthur laughed and caught her around her middle again.
"I meant you, Mrs. Weasley, and you know it," he said, holding her with one arm while bringing the other hand up to tap her lightly on the nose with one finger. "So, how about it? In the mood for a picnic with your old working stiff of a husband?"
"Oh, you," she chuckled, standing up on her tiptoes a little to kiss him lightly. She had a thoughtful look on her face when she pulled away, and he tickled her ribs lightly, causing her to squirm.
"I know that look. What are you up to?" he asked. She studied him for a moment with smiling eyes before answering.
"You know, Arthur, there's something I'd like better than a picnic," she began, and he grinned a little devilishly.
"Molly! In the middle of the day?" he exclaimed, pretending to be shocked. Molly thwapped him on the shoulder.
"Not that, you silly man!"
"What, then? Please don't tell me you want me to degnome the garden for you, Molly, because if you do I'm sure I can find more work at the office--" he started teasingly, but she interrupted him.
"Arthur, if you don't be quiet for a minute I'll never get to tell you in in the first place!" she exclaimed, and he hushed. She paused a moment, then smiled at him with a light in her eyes that he had put there, many years ago. "Will you read to me, Arthur? I can't remember the last time you and I sat down together with a real book."
His manner immediately went from teasing to tender, and a gentle grin painted his features. "Molly-girl, I think that's the best idea I've heard in a long time," he replied honestly. "Did you have a particular book you wanted?"
"Mistress Masham's Repose," she replied without hesitating, taking him by the hand and leading him to the living room bookshelf. His grin widened a little, and he kissed the top of her head as she picked up the book. Hand in hand, they walked outside to sit together against the trunk of a willow tree near the pond, and Molly snuggled up to Arthur, helping him turn the pages since the arm that wasn't holding the book was wrapped around her shoulders. And, just for a little while, they weren't worried about the children or money or responsibilities. They weren't Dad and Mum or Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. They were simply Arthur and Molly, and all that existed in their world was one another, the willow tree, and the pages of a well-worn Muggle paperback book.