The Sugar Quill
Author: Nundu (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered  Chapter: Chapter One
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It was February thirteenth and he still hadn’t bought her gift

Many thanks to St Margaret’s and the University of Fluff, Nova Scotia, for teaching me how to write ‘fluff’.

 

 

Chapter I

 

 

It was February thirteenth and he still hadn’t bought her gift.  How had he left it for so late?  Drawing his robes closer around him in the cold, damp air, Arthur looked around for inspiration.

 

The year since leaving Hogwarts had shown him how essential Molly was to his life. He knew he wasn’t a mother’s dream for her daughter.  As Junior Clerk in the Muggle Liaison Department, future opportunities were not thick on the ground.  With four older brothers, there was no anticipation of a vast inheritance.  The Weasleys had never been blessed with an abundance of gold to begin with.  The Prewitts on the other hand, were quite comfortable; Mr Prewitt being the director of wool-gathering at a northern mill, which produced fabrics used by the finest robe makers.  What would they think of a poor wizard such as himself daring to court their oldest daughter?

 

A bell jangled as Arthur pushed open the door to Schriben and Sons.  His arrival was greeted with a shower of pink confetti.  He jumped as an arrow, shot by a cupid floating above him, bounced off his chest.

 

‘Ah, a man already in the throes of love, I see.’

 

Arthur started at the voice that appeared to emanate from somewhere around his knees.  Looking down he saw a woman dressed in ludicrous hot pink robes, edged with miles of ruffled lace.

 

‘Fredericka Annabel Schriben, at your service, sir.  If I may be so bold…’

 

How could she not, Arthur thought wryly.

 

‘…you have the look of a man in a quandary.  You, no doubt, are looking for the perfect gift for the love of your life.  You have come to the right place, I assure you.’  She waved her hand expansively towards the racks of garish singing cards, extravagantly plumed quills, boxes of sweets that glinted and winked in the bright lights, all decked in more shades of pink and red than Arthur realised existed.

 

‘Here is just the thing, I think.’  With a flourish, she produced a vase full of roses whose tight buds immediately opened to full bloom, then closed again, each time giving off a strong perfume.  ‘They are guaranteed to continue blooming for one year,’ Madam Schriben assured him.

 

‘No, I don’t think…’

 

‘Simpler tastes, perhaps...’ apparently from thin air, the witch presented him with another vase.  It was filled with pansies of every colour.  Their sweet upturned faces each made smacking kissing sounds.

 

‘Ah…no.’

 

‘Is she an old fashioned kind of girl?’  At Arthur’s relieved nod, Madam Schriben scrounged behind the counter and came up with a large bunch of daisies, tied with a simple red ribbon.  Just as Arthur considered this bouquet, it burst into a jazzy chorus that ended with ‘I’ll sing to him, each spring to him, and worship the trousers that cling to him. Bewitched, bothered and bewildered, am I.’

 

‘Definitely not,’ Arthur pronounced firmly.  ‘Thank you for your help,’ and before she could protest, he ducked out, leaving the bell ringing over the door in a disconsolate manner.

 

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

 

She was nowhere to be found.  The giggly, blushing girls in the Gryffindor Common Room hadn’t seen her since breakfast.  He had finally snagged Jill, her roommate, as she hurried towards the portrait hole, distractedly late for a meeting with her latest beau.

 

‘I don’t know where she got to, Arthur, but she was upset.  She was the only sixth year girl that didn’t get a Valentine this morning.’ 

 

‘B-b-but…’ he stammered.

 

She gave Arthur a disgusted look.

 

‘But I was coming here,’ he explained hesitantly.

 

‘And did she know?’ Jill snorted impatiently as she shoved out the portrait hole with a final glare of disdain.

 

Arthur stood there deflated.  His shoulders sagged as he realised that Jill was right.  He had wanted to surprise Molly and all he had done was make her upset and probably mad.  Molly mad was not something he enjoyed.  She had a temper on her, that one.  Arthur could enjoy it when it was directed at someone else, but at him…he gave a shudder.

 

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

 

There she was.  Elbow deep in soil, repotting with manic vigour under the grey, rain-washed glass of Greenhouse two.  Her back was to the door but Arthur could tell from the set of her shoulders that the hard, filthy work had not lessened her anger.  She set the newly resettled plant on the counter with a bit more vigour than necessary and reached for another terra cotta container.  It slipped from her hands, crashing to the floor.

 

‘Oh…fiddlesticks,’ she exploded.  Shoving her fringe off her face with her forearm, she flicked her wand at the shards and they reassembled on the bench.

 

Arthur quietly stepped behind her, placing his hands on the curve of her hip.  She jumped and spun around, wand up defensively.

 

‘Arthur William Weasley, don’t you dare sneak up on me like that.’

 

Arthur grinned and leaned in for a kiss.  She turned away abruptly, leaving his lips to land in the hastily gathered ponytail on the back of her head.  Arthur dropped his hands.  It was worse than he feared.  He watched as she resumed potting the Flitterbloom cuttings violently. The silence was only broken by the squeaks and chirps of the plants protesting their rough treatment.  Arthur stood helplessly watching her slam and bang the pots and tools about.

 

‘Hey,’ he said softly, touching the back of her earth smeared hand, ‘it’s not their fault.’

 

The pot was set aside and another snatched off the shelf.

 

‘I’m sorry.’

 

Her hands stilled, but she didn’t turn around.

 

‘I wanted to surprise you.  None of the cards seemed right, and the flowers were just scary, so I decided to come in person to tell you,’ he hesitated.  Molly turned around.  He could see the trail of dried tears on her cheeks.  ‘I couldn’t say it with an owl,’ he explained in desperation.  He reached up and brushed a smudge of earth off her cheek, cupping her face in his broad hand.  ‘I love you, Molly.’  He saw, with panic, tears well up and threaten to overflow her eyes.  ‘Molly, I’m sorry!  I just had to tell you.  If you don’t feel the same, I understand.  I shouldn’t have…’

 

She pressed her fingers against his mouth to stop his gibbering and laughed with tears now running down her face.  ‘Silly boy.’  She removed her hand and as he opened his mouth to speak, she stretched up on her toes, looked right into his eyes and said ‘shhh,’ before stopping anymore arguments crossing his lips.

 

 

 

©Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered. Words & Music by Lorenz Hart & Richard Rodgers Recorded by Mel Torme, 1944

 

 

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