Fic: The King of Grimmauld Place Title: The King of Grimmauld Place Summary: The family treats Arthur like royalty when he returns from St Mungo's. Characters: Arthur, Remus, Molly, Sirius, and assorted Weasley children, red-headed and honorary Rating: Thoroughly G Word Count: 1500 Notes: For such_heights. Thanks to secretsolitaire for last-minute beta help!
On the day he is released from St Mungo’s, Arthur Weasley is king of Grimmauld Place.
Or, if not king, at least an honored citizen. For three--well, two and a half hours. Give or take a few minutes.
“You need to be quiet,” Molly says to the children, who’ve assembled in the living room to watch Molly transfigure the stiff armchair into a sick bed, complete with half a dozen pillows and a warm duvet. “Your father needs his rest.”
It’s all a bit silly, climbing into bed in front of the assembled company, but Arthur is tired and still aching from his injury, and he lets Molly pull up the duvet and fluff the pillows. He leans back and closes his eyes for a moment. When he opens them again, the children are staring at him.
“I’m fine, really,” he says, but Molly just pats his head. “Keep sleeping, Arthur,” she says.
“But he’s awake,” Ginny says, frowning.
“Well, if he’s awake, his needs come first then,” Molly says, stern. “I want you to treat him like royalty, after all he’s been through. And be quiet.”
They all shuffle out of the living room, and Arthur closes his eyes again, gratefully.
But before he can drift off, the children begin knocking on the door.
First it’s Ron and Ginny, who drop by every ten minutes to ask him how he’s feeling. Harry skulks in the hallway, peering in anxiously. The twins bring up food from the kitchen, though the cake is mostly eaten by the time it arrives, and they cast dramatic, suspicious looks at one another, as if their father might actually believe that just one of them committed this outrageous act, alone.
A little while later Hermione sneaks in for an urgent, whispered conference on the merits of Muggle stitches. Arthur is too tired to tell her that, truly, he’d rather die than have Molly lecture him on the horrors of Muggle medicine again. There are some things that are more important than good health. He lets his eyes droop closed a bit, as he does when Molly tires him out, and Hermione takes the hint and fluffs his pillows and slips out of the living room quietly.
“Quiet!” Molly bellows from the kitchen every half hour, and Arthur can hear the grumbles shake the house like an earthquake.
Molly says Sirius has been moody for days, but it’s the last afternoon before the children go back to school, and apparently he’s making a last-ditch effort to entertain them. “One more surprise in store for the children, to cheer all of us up,” he stage-whispers to Arthur from the doorway, wiggling his eyebrows conspiratorially, and Arthur gives him a quick thumbs-up, hoping that Sirius takes the surprise somewhere far from his sick room. All protests to the contrary, Arthur is exhausted, and he has the feeling Sirius’ special attentions will be jarring, at best.
“Harry!” Sirius calls. “Come here! Looks as if there are still some Christmas crackers left. Not the usual kind, are they?”
The first explosion comes from the hallway just outside the living room, a deep, rumbling dragon’s roar that just gets louder and louder, until the windows rattle. “Dear Merlin!” Arthur exclaims despite himself as Sirius’ barking laugh echoes in the hallway.
“Quiet!” Molly yells. Outside, he can hear Ron and Harry snickering and the sounds of the cracker being pulled apart by inquisitive fingers.
Arthur's eyes are closing again when he hears the sounds of the living room door closing and someone stepping inside. He peers out from beneath the duvet suspiciously.
“Remus?” he asks. "I didn't know you were back already.”
Remus spins around, wide-eyed, one hand over his heart. “Arthur! I thought I was alone.”
“As good as,” Arthur says, tucking the duvet beneath his chin, and Remus smiles.
“It’s all just a bit...joyful out there,” Remus says. “I was looking for a quiet corner for a few minutes, before dinner.”
“Too much, is it?” Arthur asks. “They’re supposed to be on their best behavior. Whatever that is.”
Remus sits down in the chair next to Arthur's bed, stretches his legs, and props them up on the ottoman. “I do like the children, Arthur,” he says apologetically. “More than I can say. I’m just used to living alone. Not much of a family man, I suppose.”
“Sirius seems to be,” Arthur says. “I wouldn't have guessed.”
Remus laughs. “He’s taking his duties seriously, isn’t he?”
“He doesn’t seem like the type to do things halfway,” Arthur says, which seems like an understatement when the second explosion comes, this one right outside his door, sounding like a thousand bats screeching and taking flight. Someone--one of the girls, Hermione, perhaps?--screams.
“He had to be coerced, you know,” Remus says after a moment. “To be a godfather. Hated children, never wanted them himself. In the end, Lily, Harry’s mum, threw a fit, and he said yes. As graciously as you’d imagine. I think the phrase was you owe me.”
“Oh,” Arthur says, chuckling. Molly hadn't been that keen on children either, at first. “Well, well. He's doing a good job now.”
“Twelve years to change his mind on that one,” Remus says slowly. “He's learning.”
Right. Arthur has never been as suspicious of Sirius as Molly is, but he hasn’t felt much affection for him until now, either. “Harry’s been good for him, then.”
“Yes,” Remus says.
They sit together silently, and Arthur is just about to drift off again when he hears Remus ask, “You had Slughorn at school, right?”
“Of course,” Arthur says. To him, Slughorn's name is synonymous with Potions, the way his children can't imagine anyone but Severus staring them down over the edges of their cauldrons.
“What was it he used to say?” Remus asks. “The lesson only starts after the first cauldron explodes?”
Arthur snorts, which makes his injured side ache, and the snort turns into a choked cough. “I don't remember that. I'd have stayed on for NEWTs, had that been the case. Top of the class.”
As if on cue, there is another small explosion in the hallway, followed by the sounds of Harry and Ron laughing, and Molly's voice drifts upstairs from the kitchen.
“Sirius Black! Stop that! Harry, don't encourage him! I don't want anyone else in hospital this week!”
“How does she know?” Lupin asks, wonderingly, but before Arthur can answer, Molly’s voice comes again, louder. “FRED AND GEORGE! WHERE DID MY CAKE GO? GET DOWN HERE RIGHT NOW!”
Arthur hears footsteps on the stairs and the sounds of Fred and George trying to get their story straight, and then Sirius wants to know if Hermione and Ginny have ever seen a hippogriff eat a live rat, and two minutes later the house shakes with another scream. Now he's certain that it’s Hermione he heard earlier. Ginny adores watching animals eat other animals.
If Arthur weren't so tired, he'd smile. It's good to be back in the midst of the chaos.
“I don’t know why Molly didn’t put a silencing spell on this door a long time ago,” Remus says, reaching for his wand, but Arthur stops him. “It’s fine, it's fine. I don’t really like being treated like royalty,” he says sheepishly. “This is much more normal.”
“How much longer till dinner, Mum?” Ron yells down the stairwell. “Harry’s hungry.”
“Tell Harry to come down here and get a sandwich,” Molly yells. “It’s another hour at least, a few members of the Order are coming over. And be quiet! Your father’s trying to rest.”
Something about the very word rest makes Arthur’s eyes heavy.
Remus pulls a book from the shelf behind him. “If it’s all the same to you, I’ll keep you company for a few more minutes,” he says. “Tell me if you need anything, King Arthur.”
Arthur pulls the duvet up to cover his cold nose and lets out a sigh. He’s grateful to Remus, who’s as kind as they come, but Harry has always been the king of Grimmauld Place, and Arthur’s glad to give up the throne to its rightful heir. He abdicates, as he does everything else, quietly, without fanfare.
Sleep is overtaking him quickly, but there’s one more thing he wanted to say...oh, right, right.
“ ’cause her cauldron, her cauldron...”
“Pardon, Arthur?” Remus asks.
“ 'Cause her cauldron exploded,” Arthur says, fighting a wave of exhaustion. “ ’Long time ago.”
“Sorry?” Remus asks.
“ ’s how she knows,” Arthur says, but he might be so close to sleep he didn’t say that out loud, because Remus doesn't answer.
No matter. Arthur slips into a deep sleep, dreaming of his children, and Molly, and the cake the twins ate.
This is a birthday fic for a long-time lj-friend and someone who makes fandom a better place, such_heights. It was originally posted at Amy's birthday comm, willbetime, where there are some wonderfully clever fics by ineffabili_tea, elsane, and mindabbles, among others. Go and enjoy!