Many thanks to Ara Kane for beta-reading. Thanks also to various knitting books and message boards for sparking this story idea.
The Sweater Curse
“Molly Prewett, have you completely lost your mind?”
Molly frowned as she looked up at the other residents of the sixth-year girls’ dormitory surrounding her bed. “It’s just a birthday present.”
“But you’re knitting him a jumper!” retorted Amelia Gamp. “Everyone knows that putting that much effort into a gift will scare any boy away!”
“Even Muggles know about the Sweater Curse,” added Anna Edwards. “My mother warned me about it.” Sophie Tyler and Claudia Bones nodded in agreement.
Molly tried and failed to keep her temper in check. “That’s just for uncertain relationships,” she snapped. “Arthur and I have been going together for well over a year already, so it doesn’t apply. Now please excuse me while I get to work.”
The other girls reluctantly turned away, and she heard someone whisper, “We were only trying to help.” Irritated, she flicked her wand and summoned the first ball of wool from her knitting basket. With only four weeks remaining until Arthur Weasley’s eighteenth birthday, Molly had no time to waste.
She only wished that the little voice of doubt in the back of her brain would stop repeating everything that her roommates had said.
Two weeks later, Arthur deliberately stepped in Molly’s path as she was hurrying back to the castle after Quidditch practice. She reached up on her tip-toes to give him a perfunctory kiss before taking off at full speed again.
She turned around to look at him.
“Is there something wrong?” he asked in a concerned voice. “You seem very distracted.”
The sweater project was not going well, but Molly couldn’t tell Arthur that. “Oh, I’ve got a lot of homework tonight.”
“I could help you,” said Arthur. He sidled closer to her and blushed a little as he added in a lower tone, “Maybe we can find a nice quiet spot in the library.”
On almost any other night, Molly would have been greatly tempted by this invitation to a secretive bit of romance. However, the thought of the less-than-half-finished jumper lying in her room re-arranged her priorities. Hating herself, she resorted to lies. “Sorry, the other girls and I had already planned a study group up in our room. Maybe some other night?”
Arthur looked somewhat skeptical about this excuse but was obviously wary of starting an argument with a short-tempered girl carrying a Beater’s bat. “All right,” he answered in a resigned voice. “But at least let me walk you back to the castle. I’d like to spend some time with you.”
Deciding that five minutes wouldn’t make any difference, Molly took his hand and slowed herself to match his leisurely pace. Smiling, she reminded herself how fortunate she was to have found such a patient, responsible boy; this one was definitely worthy of receiving a hand-knitted gift.
By the beginning of February, Molly was ready to tear her hair out.
For her normal knitting projects, she could charm her needles to keep moving with minimal intervention on her part. However, this jumper design for Arthur had complicated interlocking cables which were more difficult than anything she had ever attempted before. Even with magic, taking her eyes off the needles for more than a few seconds caused mistakes to multiply. She had unraveled and re-knitted one particular row at least three times before discovering that she had miscounted the stitches yet again.
Since she hadn’t finished the front or even started on the sleeves, there was no way she could possibly be done by Arthur’s birthday on the 6th. Molly was contemplating her limited options when the dormitory door opened to admit her roommates.
“Oh, Molly, there you are. Arthur’s looking for you.”
“Well, he’ll just have to keep on looking, otherwise he’ll never get a present,” she answered tartly before resuming her counting.
Amelia hesitated before asking in a falsely casual tone, “So, how much do you have left to do?”
“Too much.” Molly set down her needles and sighed. “I think I can be done by Valentine’s Day. I’ll have to find something else for his birthday, though. He likes Muggle things.”
All of her roommates gasped in disbelief. “Valentine’s Day? Those gifts have all sorts of dangerous hidden meanings,” said Claudia. “The pressure to top a handmade gift like that would make anybody run away!”
When Molly opened her mouth to protest, Anna added, “Don’t get angry with us. We’re only saying this for your own good.”
“It is gorgeous, but it’s too much,” concluded Sophie.
Things went downhill from there. Molly watched in frustration as Claudia’s cat jumped into her basket and unwound one of the balls of yarn. Anna repaired the damage with a quick spell, but Molly fumed silently.
This had to be the last straw. The only thing holding her temper in check was the knowledge that the sweater would never be finished if she were thrown into Azkaban for murdering her roommates.
Molly finally finished the jumper in the early hours of the 14th. By this point, she had become so frazzled that she had been making dangerous mistakes in her lessons all week. Having to serve detention in Professor Slughorn’s Potions lab made her even more upset and ensured that she had to stay up nearly all night to meet her deadline.
It was with great trepidation that she carried the wrapped present to her meeting with Arthur. She thought he had seemed rather distant over the past week; maybe there was something to the Sweater Curse after all.
In a moment of panic, the thought crossed her mind that Arthur had chosen to meet in this secluded spot on the grounds in order to break up with her without any witnesses. It didn’t help when, after a quick kiss on the cheek, his first words were, “Molly, are you sure you’re all right? You’ve been acting rather strange lately.”
In her current state of exhaustion, this was enough to send her temper flaring. “I’m acting strangely? You’re the one who’s been avoiding me!” She turned away from him and started pacing while ticking off his offenses (both real and imaginary) on her fingers. “You didn’t come to watch me at Quidditch practice last Tuesday. You’ve been asking my friends nosy questions-”
“Oh, I know!” Now that Molly was on a roll, she couldn’t stop herself. “You’ve finally realized that you’ll be finishing your N.E.W.T.s in June, and now you don’t want a girlfriend who still has another year of school left to go! Well, Happy Valentine’s Day!” In one last frenzied move, she took Arthur’s present from the pocket of her cloak and hurled it at his head. Thanks to years of Quidditch practice, her aim was true.
She had never heard steady, dependable Arthur raise his voice like that. The surprise stopped her in her tracks.
As she turned to look at him, he calmly picked his glasses and the package up from the snowy ground and dusted them with a corner of his cloak. The sad expression in his eyes brought Molly to her senses as she realized with horror what she had done. “Arthur, I’m - I’m so sorry.” Then she burst into tears.
With only a second of hesitation, he covered the distance between them and wrapped his arms around her. It took a minute before she could calm down enough to answer his worried questions.
“All I wanted (sniff) was to make you (sniff) a special present.” She took a long breath. “I worked so hard and lost sight of everything else. I’m so sorry.” She leaned forward to lay her face against his chest and was bitterly disappointed when he stepped back to put her at arms’ length.
She held her breath as he ripped the paper off the present. Except for the widening of his eyes, his face remained expressionless. Her hopes fell when he dropped the jumper on the ground.
Then, with one quick motion, Arthur stripped off his winter cloak. The sweater he wore soon followed. Shivering in his shirtsleeves, he reached for his present and pulled it over his head. When Molly could see his face again, he was smiling broadly.
She returned the grin. She had been right; that lovely shade of blue wool complemented his eyes perfectly. The sleeves were a trifle too long and the shoulders a bit wide, but to her mind, he looked so handsome that she couldn’t possibly care. Without further thought, she threw herself into his arms and kissed him enthusiastically.
He returned the favor.
A couple of Valentine’s Days later, Arthur and Molly ran off to get married. He proudly wore the jumper, and she was always grateful that she had ignored the warnings about the Sweater Curse.