A Night on the Town
"Arthur, what on earth - " Molly Prewett stepped from the door of her parents' cottage in Brixford-under-Sea, wearing a shocking pink miniskirt and a tight, fuzzy white top. "It's not even 2 a.m., are you mad? I can hardly move in this getup," she grumbled, pulling her skirt down more securely over her hips. In the dim light cast by a nearby streetlamp she caught sight of Arthur's outfit and added, "What do you call that?"
Arthur Weasley had been staring appreciatively at Molly. He shook his head as if to clear it. "You look ... fantastic," he said in awe.
"Well, thank you," said Molly, flattered. "You never know if you're quite up to the latest Muggle fashions, do you, but I've seen pictures of young ladies in London wearing clothes like these. Mum loves to scrounge old Muggle fashion mags from the neighbours..." she trailed off, once again fascinated by Arthur's raiment. "But what is that?" She gestured toward the wide band of fabric around his waist.
"It's called a cumber-bun," said Arthur knowledgeably. "Muggle men wear them on very important occasions. It goes with the tuxedo." He gestured to the frilly white shirt, loosely dangling tie, and black pants and jacket which he wore with leather boots.
Molly eyed the ensemble dubiously, but made no comment. Instead she asked, "What is this, some midnight Ministry do? I thought you wanted to meet for an early breakfast, but not this early."
"Well, I wanted to surprise you - but they're moving it up, I just heard. No, it's nothing to do with the Ministry. We wouldn't be wearing these getups unless it was a costume party, and I doubt the Ministry's ever held one! But - " he checked his watch - "we don't have all that much time, if I'm right. We have to get to London -"
"London, in the middle of the night! But - "
"It's probably best if we Apparate at Diagon Alley and walk from there," Arthur said, frowning as he consulted a much-creased Muggle map. "Ready to go?" He finally noticed Molly's sceptical expression and put on his best cajoling, little-boy face. "Come on Moll, chance of a lifetime, I swear you won't be disappointed!"
Molly couldn't help the smile that quirked her lips. She shook her head. "Very well, lead on."
They emerged in front of the Leaky Cauldron. The street was eerily dark and quiet, except for a lone car that roared by with its windows down, blaring a Muggle radio.
"I've heard that song before, it really intrigues me," Arthur said as he unfolded his map. "It's about a wizard, but what's a pin-ball?"
"Never heard of one. I don't much care for this Muggle music," said Molly, distractedly peering up and down the deserted street. "Arthur, we shouldn't hang about here."
"Right," said Arthur absently as he wrestled with folding the map, which seemed to have a mind of its own. "Beats me how Muggles manage these things, anyway. All right, let's start down this way - "
They navigated the quiet streets as quickly as they could, pausing occasionally under a streetlamp to check their direction. As they stopped on one particularly bleak corner Molly felt her shoes starting to pinch, and she was just considering getting her wand out to perform a Pedicarus Charm when a gang of seedy-looking young men appeared at the entrance of an alley just half a block away. "Arthur," she whispered urgently, nudging him as he unfolded the map again.
"Hmm?" Arthur responded, turning the paper sideways and tilting it toward the light.
"Arthur, we'd better - "
But it was too late; they'd been spotted. The apparent leader of the gang, a quite hale-looking young gentleman in dirty leathers, rapidly approached Arthur and called over one massive shoulder, "Oy, mates! Here's someone thinks he's going to take tea with the Queen!"
He turned back to the pair. "Looking for the palace, are you?" he jeered. Arthur stepped back, keeping Molly behind him - but a huge hand snaked out and snatched the tie from around his neck. Arthur fingered the wand in his pocket, but Molly hissed, "Arthur, no - your job!"
"Come on, Molly!" He grabbed her hand and they fled back the way they'd come. A cry of "Tally ho, boys!" followed them - a mock baying of hounds began, that drew closer and closer as one musically-minded lad gave a call like a hunter's horn -
Soon they were overtaken. Someone snatched the map from Arthur's hands as he tripped and fell to the sidewalk. The leader of the gang seized Molly's arms and held her back as his followers gathered round and began giving Arthur the thorough punishment his formalwear deserved.
Molly, too shocked even to whimper, couldn't bear to look. If she could just - But her captor was distracted as one of his urchins pulled Arthur's wand from a pocket and held it up. "Crikey, what's that?" he demanded, releasing Molly's arm to hold out his hand for the slender length of polished oak.
Molly plunged her freed hand into her pocket and raised her own wand. "Expelliarmus!" she shouted. The oaken wand leapt into her hand as the thug fell back heavily, knocking several of his gang to the pavement with him. Molly hurriedly put a Body-Bind on each one in turn, then fell to her knees -
"Oh, Arthur! Are you all right?" She was almost afraid to assess the damage. He lay prone, bleeding from a cut on the cheek; a lump was swelling on his forehead, his jacket was off, his shirt was torn, and the cumber-bun was crumpled in a sorrowful heap in the gutter.
Arthur sat up and put a hand to his head, dazed. "Molly! You're not hurt, are you? No? Oh, thank God...." He took in the scene around them and stared at her. "What did you do?"
"Probably earned myself thirty days in Az-Azkaban," she gulped, beginning to feel a fresh wave of panic. "Using magic in Muggle London, what'll the Ministry say...." Molly began to feel sick to her stomach. Through a haze of nausea she felt Arthur's gaze steady on her face. She sat down on the pavement and took several deep breaths. His hand wrapped around hers and she heard him clear his throat. "Molly...." he trailed off.
"What? Oh, can't you get up?" The nausea was passing. She stood with some difficulty, pulling at his hand to help him rise, but instead he only got to his knees before her and wouldn't move further. Worriedly she scanned his face, which wore a strangely intent look.
"Molly ... will you marry me?"
Her jaw dropped. For a long moment they stared into each other's eyes. Then she burst into tears.
"Molly!" Arthur said, horrified. "I'm sorry, did I offend you? What's wrong?" But she pulled her hand from his and smacked him on the shoulder. "You - you idiot!" she stormed, between sobs, "Of course I'll marry you! And you couldn't pick a better time than this, me all a mess, and you, look at you - and them - " The young toughs strewn over the sidewalk, though unable to move a limb, were eyeing the proceedings with great interest.
"I couldn't care less who sees us," said Arthur tenderly, standing and fishing a small box from the depths of his trousers. "Ah, luckily this survived our little adventure...." He opened the box and presented Molly with a small, twinkling diamond solitaire. "It's not much," he said apologetically, "I had to save up for it, and even then - "
But she stopped him, the tears flowing once more. "It's - it's perfect, Arthur."
He slipped the ring on her finger and gently tilted her face up to his. "Darling," he said, kissing her quite thoroughly.
Presently they broke apart. The night was silent, except for a radio playing softly from a window somewhere above; an unrefined but pleasing baritone assured them, "All you need is love, love; love is all you need...."
Molly gave a watery chuckle, wiping her sleeve across her eyes. "Maybe Muggle music isn't so bad after all ... This will be some story to tell our children, won't it," she said, bending to gather the tattered remnants of Arthur's apparel. A crumpled paper lay next to his jacket. "Here's your map." She handed him the forlorn-looking wad and winced as once more she felt the pain in her feet. "Oooh, I'll never wear heels again!" She pulled out her wand, put the Pedicarus Charm on her shoes, and groaned with relief.
"I was planning to do this right," Arthur said ruefully, picking up the muddied tie and his wristwatch, which had landed on a doorstep. "I wanted to wait until after - Molly! Lord, we have to hurry!" He glanced more closely at the watch, which was still ticking, and began to pull her away.
"We can't just leave them," Molly protested, gesturing toward the gang members.
"Oh, right." Arthur frowned for a moment, then took his wand from her. "Time to Obliviate, chaps," he said cheerfully to their fallen foes, who looked as puzzled and scared as it was possible to look with every facial muscle frozen. He placed a Memory Charm on each one, then undid Molly's Body-Bind from a safe distance. He added a Cheering Charm for good measure and watched as the young men began to stumble to their feet, shaking their heads like dogs drying themselves.
"What was that last charm for?" Molly said as they walked quickly back up the street.
"Just feeling so good tonight I have to share it, Molly dear," Arthur said jovially, putting his arm around her shoulders. "And you needn't worry about the Ministry, this was clearly an emergency situation. If I'd only had my wits about me and not stumbled, I might have remembered magic is allowed in these cases, and saved us a lot of grief. But then - " he squeezed her shoulders as they hurried on - "I wouldn't have known what a prize I was getting. A bodyguard as well as a cook, housekeeper, and mother to my children!"
Molly elbowed his ribs in mock indignation, looking around as they approached a large intersection. "Do you know where we're going?"
Arthur beamed. "We should be just about there. We turn here, and then - "
The low murmur of a crowd was rising to greet them as they hurried down the street into Trafalgar Square. "This is it," said Arthur excitedly. Everyone's eyes were raised to an enormous screen on one side of the square, and the crowd was falling silent. A fuzzy black-and-white image was moving on the screen. Sound crackled from loudspeakers set up nearby.
"Arthur, what on earth - "
"It's nothing on Earth, Molly," Arthur said, his voice hushed in wonder as he took her hand in his. "Look - "
A figure in a bulky white suit and helmet was moving clumsily down what appeared to be a ladder. The figure paused, then hopped off the ladder onto a barren surface, and Arthur squeezed Molly's hand as they heard a voice from a quarter of a million miles away:
"That's one small step for man ... one ... giant leap for mankind."
Author's note: A screen was indeed erected in Trafalgar Square in July of 1969 so Londoners and tourists alike could watch the Apollo moon landing for themselves. At the last minute, the time of the moon walk was moved up by several hours, and as a result many people were disappointed the next morning to learn they'd slept through it. Arthur Weasley, always alert for developments in Muggle technology, watched the moon landing very closely and naturally found out in time!
Arthur and Molly are of course the creations of J.K. Rowling, to whom I bow in humble admiration. Any inconsistencies with the real characters of Arthur and Molly Weasley or the details of the wizarding world as presented here are of course my doing.
The Who's Tommy album (including the song "Pinball Wizard") and the Beatles' Yellow Submarine album (featuring "All You Need Is Love") were both released in the first half of 1969. And after the night Arthur proposed, even Molly Weasley became a Beatles fan.