Chapter 1 : Arthur Weasley Air-Bound
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Since beginning his job at the Ministry in the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts department, Arthur had made himself quite a collection of Muggle trinkets. He had shelves full of rubber ducks, telephones, kettles, hair-dryers and light bulbs. His most prized Muggle possessions were Sirius' old bike, a lawn mower and a television, though he hadn't succeeded in getting the latter to work yet.
What interested Arthur the most, however, was Muggle transport. He was ecstatic when Hagrid had let him tinker with the huge motorbike that had once belonged to Sirius Black. After taking it all apart to examine each cog, cable and motor, he had carefully put it back together again like a three dimensional jigsaw, with just a few upgrades to the already brilliant Muggle technology.
The Ford Anglia that he had confiscated from a group of wizards was a particularly exciting find. Arthur had the wizards arrested, as it was their intention to sell it to some unsuspecting Muggles and then watch the effects of the turbospeed charm they had placed on it. Rather than removing the charm and returning the car to the Muggle garage it was purchased at, Arthur took it home where it hid in his shed for three days before Molly found it and yelled at him for two hours straight. To his own astonishment, Arthur managed to convince the unstoppable force that was his wife to let him keep the car. Of course, it was a brilliant plan until his youngest son decided to fly it to Hogwarts, where it still remained, never to be seen again by Arthur. In hindsight, the flight booster button hadn't been the best idea.
The thing that amazed Arthur the most, more so than motorbikes and cars, the thing that he would have absolutely no chance of keeping in his garden shed and taking apart, his favourite of all Muggle transport, was aeroplanes. Arthur would have hswapped his entire shed full of trinkets to get close to an aeroplane. Merlin knows what he would have done to actually fly on one. To Arthur's delight , with no shed-swapping necessary, his chance finally came around six months after the end of the second wizarding war.
Molly had been looking through some of the Weasley family photo albums on evening at The Burrow, something she had done frequently since Fred's death. On this particular occasion, the photographs were those taken during the last holiday the family had taken together, in Egypt. Harry, Ron, Ginny and Hermione had sat with Molly and listened to her tell stories about the trip, Ginny and Ron joining in. It was then that inspiration struck Harry and he quickly shared his plan with his girlfriend and two best friends once Mrs Weasley had gone to bed.
Several days later, Harry had asked that everyone stay behind after dinner so he could share some news with them. It was a Friday, which was the one night of the week when Bill, Fleur, Percy and George would be at The Burrow for dinner and the ideal opportunity for Harry to reveal his plan.
Plates cleared, everyone was now watching Harry in anticipation. He stood up and cleared his throat.
"So, you're probably all wondering why I've asked you to wait around. I've got a bit of an announcement to make."
Bill interrupted him. "You're proposing to Ginny!"
"The answer is no!" George yelled. "She's far too young!"
Ginny glared at her brothers. "He's not proposing. Sorry Harry, carry on."
Harry, who was now a little red-faced, continued. "Ginny's right, I'm not. What I wanted to tell you was this. You might not know this but after the war, the Ministry wanted to give me a reward, for defeating Voldemort, a financial one. Of course, I told them no. It wasn't just me who got rid of him, it wasn't even just me, Ron and Hermione. It was everyone who fought and everyone who defended me or was on the right side. I couldn't accept it, I told them to use it to help repair Hogwarts, or to help those who had lost their homes, anything but give it to me. When I went to Gringotts last week I found that they'd put the money in my vault anyway. So I've been wondering what to do with it ever since. Well, us three have been wondering," he gestured to Ron, Hermione and Ginny before continuing. "A few days ago, Molly, you gave me the perfect idea. We're going on holiday, to Egypt. All of us here, and Charlie too, Ron wrote to him," at this, George and Bill high-fived, Percy clapped his father on the back, Mrs Weasley cried and Fleur hugged her. Harry and the other three looked around and grinned at each other.
"There's more," Harry said, gaining the attention of the room once more. "It's not just any holiday. Arthur, you'll like this, we're having a Muggle holiday." Mr Weasley gasped, causing the rest of the family, with the exception of Mrs Weasley, to laugh. Molly looked anxious, Harry continued to explain.
"Me and Hermione went yesterday to book the tickets in a Muggle travel agents, that's where Muggle's go to have someone book their flights and hotels and stuff. Hermione, can you...?"
Hermione pulled a stack of paper out of her bag and handed them out to each person at the large dining table. Mr Weasley was bouncing up and down on his seat, only to be settled by his wife's stern glare. He quickly became distracted by the little silver paper clip holding his travel documents together, George took it off him so that he would actually read the information in front of him.
For a few minutes, the room was silent. Harry gave everyone the chance to read through the papers Hermione had put together. They outlined details of their flights; times, dates and seat numbers, their hotels and also an itinerary of the days Hermione had meticulously planned that involved sight-seeing tours of both the Muggle and Wizard kind. She had also used magical means to obtain passports for each of them. George was now poking the stationary picture of himself inside his own passport; willing it to move.
"Goodness Harry," Mr Weasley was the first to break the silence, "this is all a bit much. Merlin knows how much this must have cost you. We can't accept it, we just can't."
"Arthur is right dear," said Molly, placing a hand on top of her husband's, "it's a lovely offer but that money is yours, and it's well deserved. I can't let you spend it on us."
"Don't be mental mum," Ron said, "Harry wants to do this. I tried to tell him you wouldn't let him but he insisted. Save your breath and just let him do it. Plus, Dad, are you really saying no to the chance to go on a real aeroplane? You've been telling me for as long as I've worn pants that you want to go on one!"
Both Molly and Arthur opened their mouths to protest but Harry interrupted. "Listen. Firstly, it's too late, I've already booked and paid for it. If I cancelled I would only get half of the money back anyway, so you would be wasting it. Second," Harry took a deep breath, giving himself a moment to search his head for the right words, "you're all family to me; have been since that day I met you on the platform at King's Cross. You've given me a place to get away from the Dursley's, taught me about the magical world when I was completely clueless and fed me-maybe a little too much at times," this was met with laughter from a teary-eyed Mrs Weasley. "You've taken me to a quidditch World Cup, visited me when I was put in for the Triwizard Tournament and supported me through the worst times in my life. Not to mention you've been the parents I never had, given me a best friend and the only girl I'll ever love. Please, let me give you what is a tiny gift in comparison to what you've given me."
Harry was now looking at his feet, his face felt hot and he imagined it was the colour of a quaffle. When he looked up, he could see silent tears running down Hermione's face, Ron was grinning whilst holding her hand. Ginny was looking at Harry with an expression of pure adoration. Bill, George, Percy and Mr Weasley were beaming at him. Fleur was also crying and Mrs Weasley was sobbing unashamedly.
"So," said George finally, "we're going to Egypt next week then? Excellent, I'll go and get packing!"
Eight days later, at an unthinkably early time of morning, nine Weasley's plus Harry and Hermione were frantically rushing around The Burrow. Suitcases had tumbled down the stairs, bits of toast were whizzing around people's heads waiting to be eaten, Mrs Weasley was yelling, Mr Weasley was singing and everyone was excited.
Hermione, being the only member of the group who had travelled on an aeroplane before, spent the week explaining each step of their journey. She talked them through checking in, security and boarding the plane and tried as best she could to explain the sensation of flying. Though the rest of the group were looking forward to the trip, none compared to the excitement of Arthur Weasley. Hermione worried that he had not really been listening when she had explained what to expect both in the airport and on the plane.
The only magical part of their journey to Egypt would be the portkey they were taking to London. Though Exeter was the closest airport to The Burrow, Hermione had chosen to book their flights from Heathrow as it was a much bigger airport and she thought that Mr Weasley would enjoy it more. The portkey took the group to a secluded spot around the side of the large airport; a short walk away from the international departures entrance.
As soon as they arrived in the airport, Mr Weasley was beside himself with excitement. He spent ten minutes in the revolving doors, exclaiming 'whoops!' every time he missed his chance to step out of the gap. He had to be 'shushed' on more than one occasion for pointing out things that made the Muggles around him stare, like the electronic boards showing flight information and the walkie talkies carried by security.
Always forward thinking, Hermione had charmed all of their wands with an undetectable concealment spell and put them safely in her infamous beaded bag, which was then hidden by a disillusionment charm.
They checked in and passed through security without any major problems (unless they counted Mr Weasley asking if he could stand on the conveyer belt that weighed their bags to find out how much he weighed too, or him making an effort to point out to the woman at the check in that their passport pictures were perfectly still, or him shouting 'the Muggles have wands too!' when security checked him over with their handheld body scanners). Much to the relief of the group, they were soon in the departure lounge.
This was by far Arthur's favourite part of the day so far. He stood, next to several Muggle children, at the large window, through which many aeroplanes could be seen arriving at and leaving the airport. He pressed his nose to the glass, eager to see more and pointed to the closest plane, explaining it's parts to the children.
"That bit there, they call that the nose; because it looks like one you see. And those are the wings, a bit bigger than a birds, eh? Even bigger than a hippogriff!"
At this point, Harry rose from his seat and approached Mr Weasley. Explaining to the parents, who were now pulling their children away with a mixture of confusion and fear on their faces, that it was his first time on an aeroplane and he was just over-excited.
"Hello," he said as he reached Arthur, "are you enjoying yourself?"
"Oh, Harry. This is amazing! Do you know, I've dreamt of this moment since my first Muggle studies lesson at Hogwarts. I know I've said this to you already, but thank you. This holiday is exactly what we all need," he patted Harry on the back fondly before becoming distracted by the places once more. "Which one do you think will be ours?"
Harry pointed at a plane slightly to the left, that bore the logo of the travel company they had booked the holiday with. Arthur's eyes were drawn to it and they remained there long after Harry resumed his seat next to Ginny.
They were first in the queue to get on the plane when they were called, Harry suspected this was mostly due to the rest of the passengers not wanting to get in the way of a now almost uncontrollable Arthur. He practically skipped down the short tunnel that led directly on to the aeroplane and then dawdled to his seat; not wanting to miss looking at any part of the inside, causing a bit of a jam with the rest of the passengers.
Once seated, Mr Weasley unfolded and folded the small table attached to the seat in front of him until Mrs Weasley snapped at him.
"For Merlin's sake Arthur! Just leave it alone, you know what it does and that won't change!" she whispered angrily. Arthur stopped but continued to stare at the table as though expecting it to jump out at him.
He sat bolt upright in his seat and listened eagerly to the safety announcement given by the flight attendants, his eyes darted to each exit outlined and flicked up to the buttons above him as each was mentioned.
Once they were finished, he still didn't relax, choosing instead to read his safety booklet several times whilst the staff checked seatbelts were fastened. He then watched them eagerly as they sat in their own seats and fastened their belts.
"This is it everyone! Take-off!" he looked around at his family, Harry ad Hermione. "Shush!" he said sharply, though no-one was speaking. "I can hear the pro-peelars, that's what makes the plane fly, you know," he said knowledgeably.
"I think you mean propellers, Mr Weasley," Hermione told him kindly though he paid no attention to her, for now the plane was moving and he was watching the runway whizz by as they gained speed. He didn't even notice that his wife had turned a funny shade of green and was now sitting with her head in her hands.
A bump, which made both Mrs Weasley and Fleur squeak, told them that they had now left the ground. Their trip to Egypt had officially began.
The flight was six hours long, though it felt much longer. George was frustrated as he was sitting next to Percy, who bored him with tales from his new job. George was glaring angrily at Hermione, inwardly cursing her from hiding his exploding snap cards. He argued that he would simply explain to airport security that the explosions they caused simply weren't big enough to explode the plane but Hermione had put her foot down.
Bill, Fleur, Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione chatted happily amongst themselves and the latter spent some of her time reading books on Egyptian tourism.
Mr Weasley, having finally calmed down, passed the time mostly by watching out of the window at the passing clouds. Molly, now over the initial shock of flying, watched her husband fondly. It had been a difficult six months to say the least, she wished that Fred was there with them but was content knowing that this was the first time since his death that Arthur had truly been happy.
When the aeroplane landed in Egypt early in the evening, it was with a heavy heart that Mr Weasley prepared to descend the steps that lead on to the tarmac where their shuttle bus was waiting. He trailed behind his family and reluctantly stepped outside into the warmth of the Egyptian air. He looked back at the plane once he sat down on the busy bus, looking forward to his holiday but even more eager to travel on a Muggle aeroplane again.
He turned to the group and said in a thoughtful voice, "I wish I had a bigger shed."