Aww...guys, this is it! Thank you for all your reviews. I hope that no matter when you read this, you'll drop me a note to say what you thought. Molly and Arthur, in my mind, represent the true love that infuses the entire series of books. This makes them fun to write, but also difficult-it's hard to hit the right notes without becoming sentimental or silly. I hope you've enjoyed reading these shots as much as I've enjoyed writing them for you.
30 June 2000 – Vow
"All right, Mum," said Ginny's voice in her ear. She kissed Molly's cheek and squeezed her shoulders. "Open your eyes."
Molly did, and her mouth fell open as she looked at her reflection. "Oh…my."
Ginny bent over, beaming at her in the mirror. "You look beautiful. And your hair's gotten really long."
Molly put a hand over her chest, trying to stop her heart from racing. Ginny had twisted small sections of her hair into two delicately coiled strands that met in the back—similar to the way she usually wore it, but for the first time in years, the rest of her hair was hanging freely in its gentle, ginger-colored curls. She looked like a completely different person, at least to her own eyes. She leaned forward, touching her temple.
"Where'd all the gray go?" she laughed.
Ginny kissed her cheek again. "You haven't got any gray. Stop fishing for compliments, I won't give them to you."
Molly swatted her arm. "Thank you, sweetheart," she said.
Ginny nodded, looking down at her watch. "I'll tell Fleur you're ready to put the dress on," she said, ducking out the bedroom door and disappearing.
After she had gone, Molly closed her eyes, taking a deep breath. She had no reason on earth to be nervous, but that didn't stop her heart from fluttering, nor had it stopped her from being unable to eat a thing at breakfast or lunch. The boys—Harry, included—had abducted Arthur last night for a faux stag party, while Ginny, Fleur, little Victoire, and Hermione had all stayed at the Burrow for a celebration of their own—even Andromeda and Teddy had come along.
Molly was renewing her vows to Arthur today, their thirtieth anniversary, in their garden at sunset. She had never thought that this sort of thing would be for them, but…somehow, now, after everything, it seemed right. She stood and walked to look out the window, where she could just see the tops of the trees in the orchard. It was the perfect end of a perfect summer day, breezy and warm. The event wasn't going to be very fancy; they were only expecting around thirty people, including the family.
Molly hadn't been allowed outside the Burrow all day. The girls—including Angelina Johnson, who had arrived early in the morning to do the cooking—had even gone so far as to put pieces of parchment over all the windows through which she might accidentally see any of the area for the ceremony. She had been told repeatedly that it was to be a surprise. Ginny had already twice caught her trying to peer around the house out of the bedroom window, but there was nothing to see. One of the chimneys was in the way.
She didn't have any idea how it was possible, but Molly felt more nervous about today than she had on the day she'd married Arthur. He had teased her last week that she had stage fright—they hadn't gotten married in front of anyone but Tom and Marlene McKinnon, the last time. She folded her hands tightly together and released a slow breath, moving back to sit on the foot of the bed. Stop being silly, she told herself.
"'Ere we are," Fleur's voice chimed as the bedroom door swung open. Molly beamed as Ginny came in, carrying a dress bag on a hanger, and Fleur followed her, cradling Victoire in her arms. "Say 'ello to Grandmére, Victoire," she purred, bringing the baby to Molly. "Tell 'er 'ow beautiful she looks."
Molly blushed, smiling down at the sleepy little face in the pink blanket. "How's my girl? How's my little one?" she asked, tickling Victoire's hand. The baby yawned widely, closing her large blue eyes.
"Thank you for getting 'er to sleep, last night," said Fleur, stifling a yawn of her own as she helped Ginny unwrap Molly's dress. "I forget zat she is used to 'earing ze ocean—but ze clock by ze crib worked perfectly."
"Well, babies often like rhythm," Molly replied, rocking Victoire gently. She smiled at Ginny. "I had to put my wristwatch inside this one's teddy bear so she could hear it tick. It was the only way I got any sleep for about three months."
"I remember that bear. I donated him to science," said Ginny vaguely. Molly stared at her, and she grinned. "He was a guinea pig at Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes. George keeps him in the display window now as the unofficial mascot." Molly laughed as Ginny unzipped the bag and helped Fleur lay the dress out carefully on the chair. "Oh, Fleur—you're amazing!" Ginny gasped.
Molly stared at it. "How did you find time to do this with a baby in the house?" she laughed.
Fleur shrugged, taking Victoire again so that Molly could stand up and look at the dress. "She likes to be wiz me, even eef I am working on something. I 'old 'er in ze sling you gave me, Ginny, she loves eet and she stays quiet." Then she gave Molly a furtive smile. "I may 'ave done some work before she arrived," she admitted with a wink. Molly shook her head.
The gown was long, pale blue embroidered with flowers of white thread around the neckline and loose, floaty sleeves. It tied in at the waist with a white silk ribbon before draping in a wide, rippling circle to the floor. Molly brushed her fingertips over the chiffon, and for some reason, her eyes filled with tears. She closed them quickly and kept her back to Ginny and Fleur as she said, "I think I can manage from here, girls. I'm sure there'll be some guests arriving soon. I'll come down in a bit."
There were a few moments of silence, during which Molly could almost see the look that Ginny and Fleur shared.
"I've got to see if Luna's here to work on the bouquets, actually," said Ginny.
"I should feed Victoire before ze ceremony," Fleur murmured.
"Erm—call if you need me, Mum. Careful not to get any makeup on the dress," Ginny added. Molly nodded, and a moment later, the bedroom door clicked shut after them. She sank, weak-kneed, onto the end of the bed. Was there ever going to be a time when her heart didn't suddenly startle her with a terrible pang of longing for Fred? She took a slow, deep breath, and calmed herself down. This was a happy event—and if Freddie were here, he would have been happy to participate in it, most likely by making trouble.
"He's here," she told herself firmly. "He is. Now get up, and get ready."
"Oh, Molly," gasped Fleur when Molly descended the stairs an hour later.
"Mrs. Weasley, you look amazing!" cried Hermione. She and Angelina Johnson stood in the doorway to the kitchen, openmouthed. Hermione held a just-washed mixing bowl and a dishtowel that she seemed to have forgotten about entirely.
Ginny stuck two fingers in her mouth and whistled. Molly turned bright pink and shot her a reproving glare. She gestured to the covered-up windows. "Am I allowed outside now?"
"Yes, yes, everyone is 'ere," said Fleur as she got up from the rocking chair. "Ze boys 'ave just brought Arthur." She passed Victoire to Ginny, who had also come over to look at Molly's dress. "Perfect—but let me fix ze sash."
"Go tell them we're ready," said Ginny to Hermione and Angelina, who immediately stripped off their aprons and hurried outside.
Fleur came around to face Molly and smiled. "'Appy anniversary, Molly," she said. She turned to a nearby table and picked up two bouquets of the most colorful and unusual flowers Molly had ever seen; they certainly had come from the Lovegoods' garden. She presented Molly with the larger of the two and kissed her cheek. "I 'ope to celebrate ze next thirty wiz you both, as well."
"Oh, Fleur," Molly replied, feeling rather choked up again, "I hope so too." And they embraced tightly, until Victoire gave a discontented wail in Ginny's arms, waving her little hands for her mother. Molly moved to lean over her. "Thank you for being here, too, my sweet girl," she laughed gently, as Fleur took her up against her shoulder.
Ginny had taken her bouquet and looked to Fleur. "Start up the music?" she asked.
"Of course," Fleur replied, departing through the back door, leaving Ginny and Molly alone.
"Hope you haven't got cold feet," Ginny told her, smoothing her hair.
"I think it's a little late for that," said Molly with a laugh. There was a sudden honking sound; she looked down at her bouquet in alarm.
"Luna," Ginny explained. "I wouldn't worry about it."
Molly chuckled. "Come here, Ginevra," she said, opening her arms.
Molly squeezed her in a tight hug. "I'm your Mummy. I get to do this whenever I like, and there's nothing you can do about it."
There was a sudden tinkle of music from outside the kitchen door; it sounded like wind chimes. Ginny pulled back, smiling. "That's our cue." She took Molly's hand and led her to the door. "I'll be right behind you, okay? Just walk. You'll see where to go."
"I love you, sweet pea," said Molly happily.
"Me too, Mummy," she replied. "Now, come on." She opened the door. "Don't leave my Dad at the altar."
Outside, the sun was disappearing on the horizon, and the entire sky was pink and gold, streaked with color that bled into a deep blue strewn with stars. The aroma of the flowers in the garden was overpowering in the last heat of the day. Molly took a step forward—and on either side of her feet, little lights burst, glittering as it set off a whole chain, illuminating a path that led through the flowerbeds, through the orchard, to the very heart of the garden.
"Everlasting Sparklers," Ginny said in her ear. "George came up with them. Go on."
Molly's heart leapt joyously; at the end of this path was her family—her sons, her friends, her adopted children—and most of all, Arthur. She smiled, so suddenly, and so widely, that she felt like she flew down the garden path.
She came to a stop under the branches of the largest tree at the far end of the orchard, where everyone was gathered. Her breath caught in her throat. An altar and a canopy made of fairy lights glittered under the sprawling branches of the tree. There were two rows of chairs on either side of a long, white strip of carpet that made the aisle Molly stood on. Hagrid had his own seat at the very back, and winked at Molly as she passed. The guests all stood, gazing at her as if she really were a bride. She beamed at Fleur's parents and little sister, who were in the second row near the Longbottoms and Lovegoods. She saw Andromeda in the second row beside Pomona Sprout, who was seated, and Minerva, who looked very happy.
The first row was family, and it struck Molly as amusing that they could fill twelve chairs on their own, with two little ones on laps (Harry had Teddy, at the moment). All the boys had dates; Ron held Hermione's hand, George whispered something in Angelina's ear that made her laugh, and Charlie and Darya were both grinning at Molly from where they stood beside Fleur. Percy had even brought Audrey, whom Molly would meet for the first time tonight. They all looked so happy, coupled off together, that she wanted to cry. Then the music gave another little trill, and her eyes were drawn up to where Bill stood by the canopy of fairy lights—and then she saw him, as if for the very first time all over again.
Arthur stood directly in front of her, looking a little stunned. Bill was just behind him, in the position of the master of ceremonies, smirking at his father.
"Hi," said Arthur, as she stopped before him. She laughed, taking his hand. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Ginny slip into the seat between Harry's and Fleur's.
Bill flicked his wand; the music lowered, and the guests all took their seats.
"Bit different from last time, isn't it?" Molly whispered, squeezing Arthur's fingers. He grinned at her.
"Ready?" asked Bill, leaning forward. "You look great, Mum."
"Thank you, sweetheart," she said. "I'm ready if you are," she told Arthur, and he nodded eagerly.
"Good evening, everyone," Bill called, straightening up and addressing the assembled guests. "Friends, family…almost family." Molly beamed at Harry and the girls in the front row. "We're here tonight to celebrate my two favorite people in the entire world," Bill said, "Apart from my own wife and daughter. My parents, Molly and Arthur Weasley."
And, unexpectedly—for Molly and Arthur, at least—Ginny stood up and began to clap. She was quickly followed by Harry (and Teddy, who was looking rather bemused in his godfather's arms), Ron, Hermione—Luna Lovegood, Neville Longbottom, Andromeda—the Delacours—
Every single guest rose and applauded. Molly looked at Arthur, agape. He seemed almost at the point of tears; he was clenching his jaw tightly as he squeezed her hand.
"What on earth—?" she stammered, feeling torn between laughter and tears. She looked at Ginny and Hermione, who were both beaming at her, and Ginny whistled at her again.
Bill stepped forward. "Mum, Dad—that is from everyone whose lives you've improved—" He paused and swallowed, blinking, "—by being a part of them. There are people here whose lives you have saved, whose spirits you have lifted, and whose broken hearts you've mended, just by being there for them," he said. "And I haven't even started talking about your kids."
Molly's chin trembled, and she reached out and grabbed his hand. "Thank you, sweetheart," she whispered. Bill nodded.
"I've always thought of my parents as a kind of force of nature," he continued, now addressing the guests. "You'll be hearing more from my siblings on that point, later—mostly from George, I'll bet." There was a round of laughter. "Not only did they raise seven of us—" Molly's heart ached, and Arthur squeezed her hand, "—but they gave us the most amazing family that anyone could have ever hoped for. It was never 'no,' but always, 'let's make it work.' The door was always open to our friends, we were always offered advice when we needed it—even if it was terrible advice," he said. "Never ask my dad about how to win a girl over, by the way. I'm still wondering how he snagged Mum."
Molly laughed hysterically, and Arthur turned red, though he too was grinning. Ginny hurried up to the altar and covertly passed Molly a handkerchief, which she accepted gratefully and wiped away her tears.
"Mum and Dad," said Bill, "Tonight is about you, and the amazing family you've created—including your granddaughter. It's your thirtieth anniversary, and your vows that we get to see you renew. Everyone else will talk at dinner," he said, gesturing to Ginny and the boys, "But now it's your turn. Happy anniversary. I love you." There was another round of applause as Bill hugged and kissed Molly, then Arthur, and then went to stand with Fleur and Victoire.
Molly looked at Arthur, sniffling and wiping her cheeks again. "Do you want…?"
He nodded. "Please."
She smiled. "Go on."
Arthur wrapped an arm around her, bringing her close to his side. "Thirty years ago today…I kidnapped Molly from her parents' house, and we sneaked off to Scotland to get married." He laughed, and Molly did too. "I was a terrible influence on her, and I don't want anyone to ever follow my example," he added, giving the front row a stern look; there were several giggles, and Hermione blushed bright pink. "But I can honestly say, without a moment's doubt in my mind, that it's the best thing that's ever happened to me, and there will never be a day that goes by that I'll regret doing it." He reached a hand into his pocket and pulled out a bronze Knut. He held it up for everyone to see. "This was the first engagement gift I ever gave Molly, because it was all I happened to have on me—and if I didn't give it to her right at that moment, she would've walked out for good. Even if she was being silly."
Arthur looked down at the coin in his palm. "It's exactly the same coin, and for the last thirty years, we've been playing a strange kind of pass-the-parcel, back and forth…and we've never lost it, or spent it, or anything. I think you gave it to me two months ago, when our first grandchild, Victoire, was born." She nodded, almost unable to see through her tears, and sniffled. "When I was thinking of what to say in my vows," he said, "I kept coming back to this…and then I thought that maybe, in this case…I could keep it simple. This has been the symbol for us for this long—why break a good tradition now?" He picked up her hand and placed the Knut in it. "This is my vow, Molly. I hope it's enough."
Molly looked down at it for a moment, and then up at Arthur. She beamed before throwing her arms around his neck, kissing him soundly to a round of applause and kindhearted laughter. She pulled away from him at last, but kept her arms around his waist.
"Oh, Arthur," she sighed, shaking her head. "It's been a mad thirty years with you. And…through everything we've had, and we've—lost—" her voice broke, and she looked away for a moment. Arthur rubbed her arm gently. She took a breath and smiled again. "I can't say that I wouldn't change anything," she said, her voice shaking terribly, "but almost." She wiped her eyes quickly and gave Arthur a water smile; he had tears in his eyes, as well. She took another deep breath and steeled herself. She could almost hear Fred's voice telling her to stop crying. "I'm sure this is going to damage the already extremely underfed egos of our children," she said, shooting looks at the six of them sitting in the first row, "but you are my heart. I don't know what I would do without you to brighten my day…so my vow is to remember forever that you're a part of me, and you always will be. I love you."
Arthur couldn't have grinned more. He reached into his pocket and produced one of the new rings that he and Molly had picked out; they were a gift from the children. Ginny darted out of her seat again and handed her Arthur's band. They exchanged the rings, grinning foolishly, and then leapt into each other's arms in a passionate kiss.
"Happy anniversary," Arthur murmured in her ear as the guests clapped again.
"Happy anniversary," she whispered back. "I'm starving."
He laughed and pulled back. "Do you know, so am I? I was so nervous, I couldn't eat all day," he told her. Molly closed her eyes for a moment, smiling. "What?" asked Arthur.
She shook her head. "Nothing at all, you barmy old man." He enveloped her in another hug.
"Mollywobbles," he muttered in her ear, and a chill chased down her spine.
"Hey, Mum! Dad!"
They looked around.
Ron, Bill, Charlie, Percy, George, and Ginny had all run to the other end of the garden and drawn their wands; everyone turned around to look at them.
"Happy anniversary, from all seven of us!" George yelled. "Now!"
Explosions of colored light rocketed into the night sky, glittering and whirling up above the Burrow, and Molly gasped. With an almighty clang like the tolling of a great bell, one bright red rocket and one gold rocket collided in midair and burst into shining dust. Where they connected, glittering stars of scarlet and gold hung in a massive heart, inside of which was inscribed,