Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
Summary: When Ginevra's father leaves on a business trip, she asks for one gift on his return. Little does she know the consequences of a simple red rose. AU.
Inspired by The Grimm BrotherÕs The Lady and the Lion, and DisneyÕs Beauty and the Beast.
Arthur looked at his children, smiling at them broadly.
"With the bonus work that gave me I will be able to bring you one gift each. Choose carefully, my children," he said seriously, looking at his four children standing before him.
They all nodded before thinking of something they really wanted. Twenty-year-old Frederick and George talked to each other quietly, while eighteen-year-old Ronald and seventeen-year-old Ginevra thought to themselves silently.
Molly watched the last four of her seven children and sighed wistfully, knowing that very soon, Frederick and George would be leaving them, just as William, Charles and Percival had before them. She could only hope that her two youngest would be able to stay a while longer. However, looking at her youngest son Ronald, Molly knew that he would not stay as long as his brothers had, and he would soon leave too, eager to seek his fortune.
"Frederick, George. I do not think I would like to know of what you would like," Arthur said looking at them with a smile.
"Those Muggles have got coloured slime in tin circular boxes," they said in unison.
"Quite cheap too, last we saw, right Fred?" George asked his twin.
"Not even five Sickles!" Frederick agreed with a nod.
"You are not going to terrorise your mother with it, are you?" Arthur asked sternly.
"We would never do that to Mother!" the twins said, feigning shock and hurt looks. "Ronnie-kins on the other hand," they muttered in an undertone, with mischievous grins to each other.
"I will see about it," Arthur promised before turning to his youngest son. "Ronald, what would you like?" he asked.
"Can ... Can I get a new Chuddley Cannons shirt? Or a poster? Please, Father?" Ronald begged.
They all knew how much the official Chuddley Cannons merchandise cost, and so Ron had waited a very long time to ask for anything of it. Arthur knew this too and gave a small sigh. It would all depend on what his youngest child asked for...
"I will try my best, Ronald," he said, giving his son an encouraging smile. "Ginevra. What would you like me to bring back for you?" Arthur asked smiling at his youngest - and his most favourite, if truth be told - child.
"I would like a red rose, if you would be so kind, Father," Ginevra said smiling at him.
"That is all?" he asked in amazement.
"Yes, please," Ginevra said, smiling again.
"Very well. Molly dear, what would you like me to bring you?" Arthur asked his wife.
"I would not protest to some new wool. I am in short supply, and Christmas will be here soon. I need to begin knitting soon for our other three boys, as well as these four," she said with a smile.
"As good as done, my dear. I will see you all in one week," Arthur said, looking at his family one more time.
Wilson, the coachman, tapped his shoulder gently. "I do apologise, my Lord Arthur, but we must leave immediately if my Lord is to make his appointment on time," he said apologetically.
"Of course. Thank you, Wilson," Arthur said and stepped into the carriage, Wilson closing the door after him.
"Return safely, Father!" Ginevra called.
"Always," Arthur said with a smile.
Ginevra waved to her father as the carriage left through the gates.
Arthur sighed and shook his head, rubbing his forehead wearily. He had been able to find and buy every gift, excepting the one simple thing that his only daughter had asked for. He had bought a book for her, as Ginevra loved reading, but he knew that it would not be the same.
He had asked at every florist and flower shop along the coast, as well as most inland, searching for a red rose for his daughter. The storeowners had all laughed and ridiculed him, saying it was impossible to find a rose during winter.
Arthur wasn't sure if he could handle seeing the disappointment on his daughter's face. He looked down at the bags surrounding him and shook his head again, looking out of the window. His return home had already been delayed by a day due to a road blocked with snow at the previous town, too frozen for even magic to thaw effectively or quickly. Wilson had been forced to take the carriage along a different route in order to return home. Despite the villagersÕ insistence that no one lived along this road, Arthur could see a large castle behind the walled road.
"Stop the carriage!" he called quickly and the carriage came to a sudden halt.
"Is something the matter, my Lord Arthur?" Wilson asked in concern, looking down to the interior of the carriage.
"Nothing is the matter, Wilson. I have just found the gift for my daughter, that is all," Arthur said with a smile, stepping out of the carriage and onto the frozen ground carefully.
Wilson looked at the large castle, his lord becoming an insignificant figure before the looming and formidable castle, and quickly hurried after Arthur. When he reached him at the gates, Wilson stopped in shock, seeing the beautiful gardens through the bars. Rose bushes of every colour imaginable were blooming, despite the snow surrounding their slender trunks. Shadows covered the garden and Wilson shivered, the cold weather having nothing to do with the chill that ran down his spine.
"Perhaps we should continue on and search further along the lane, my Lord Arthur?" Wilson said fearfully, not liking the eerie look of the place.
"Nonsense, Wilson. I will just ask the lord of the castle if he could spare one rose. It should not be too much trouble for him, considering the rose bushes are practically overflowing," Arthur said and rang the large silver bell on the gates.
It clanged loudly, echoing through the empty gardens. No person appeared, servant, lord or otherwise. Behind them, the horses neighed fearfully.
"My Lord Arthur please, I beg you to return to the carriage," Wilson pleaded, his fear increasing with each whimper the horses made.
The gates creaked open and Arthur went over to them curiously.
"The gates were closed firmly before... Someone must be there for the gates to have opened. Do not worry over me, my friend, I will be back in a moment. I just wish to seek the lord of this castle," Arthur said, then stepped through the gates and onto the path leading through the gardens up to the castle, ignoring his coachman's protests.
With a fearful glance around, Wilson followed him quickly, not wanting any harm to befall his lord. He caught up with him easily and watched as Arthur bent to the ground beneath the red rose bush. He picked up the single fallen rose and smiled gratefully.
"I will leave a few Sickles by the gates in payment for the rose. The lord will not miss it, as it had already fallen from the rose bush," Arthur said decisively.
Wilson went to argue, but relented with a sigh, knowing how disappointed Ginevra would be if she did not receive the rose. She was too lovely and kindhearted a child to let her disappointment show, but it would still hurt the others around her, knowing how sweet she was and not having received the one gift she had asked for.
"Of course, my Lord Arthur. We should leave quickly, your family is expecting you soon," Wilson said with a small bow.
Arthur nodded and they walked to the gates briskly in the cold wind. He placed three Sickles on the small birdhouse and went to follow Wilson out of the estate's gates.
"Who dares to steal from my property?" a voice roared from behind him, and the gates shut before Arthur could get out.
"Arthur!" Wilson yelled quickly and Arthur turned to see a lion leaping at him.
He trembled in fear as a large paw pressed against his throat dangerously.
"I will eat who ever steals from my property!" the lion snarled.
"I apologise, Lord Lion! I did not know that this property was your own! I found this rose beneath the red rose bush and I left money in exchange for it!" Arthur said quickly, hoping that the lion would have pity on him.
"You think that I need your money, human?" the lion roared angrily, swiping at the birdhouse.
It crumbled beneath his paw and the three Sickles landed at Arthur's feet.
"Is there nothing I can do to save my life, Lord Lion?" Arthur asked desperately.
"There is nothing you can do, unless you promise to give to me whatever meets you first on your return home," the lion said, his paw loosening slightly.
"Nay, I cannot do that! It may be my youngest child and I will not forfeit her life!" Arthur protested quickly.
"It may only be the Puffskein, my Lord Arthur," Wilson said from the other side of the bars. "He has often met you before your daughter," he said, his fear making him avoid the lion's gaze.
"Do you agree, human?" the lion asked, looking at him. "The first thing that meets you on your return home, in exchange for the red rose and your life?" he asked.
Arthur sighed wearily. "Yes, I agree," he said quietly, seeing no other choice.
"I will expect it on the morrow, to allow you to say goodbye," the lion said, letting go of Arthur and padding over to the rose bushes, dismissing Arthur.
The gates creaked open and Arthur quickly went to his carriage, Wilson jumping on top and whipping the horses into action.
The lion watched as the carriage disappeared into the horizon and the gates swung shut noiselessly. He turned to the red rose bush seriously.
"You did that on purpose, didn't you?" he asked.
The rose bush swayed in the wind and with a disgruntled sigh, the lion went back into the castle.
What had he done? He had just given his daughter's life over to that ... to that beast, all for a rose. He should have declined and suffered the disappointment on Ginevra's face rather than losing her forever! No, he should not think that way. It would most likely be the Puffskein, as Wilson had said.
And so, Arthur tried to convince himself that what he had done was right for the rest of the carriage ride home.
"We are arriving at the house, my Lord Arthur," Wilson said, his voice echoing sadness.
"Is anyone from my family there?" Arthur asked quietly.
"Nay, there is no one," Wilson said, obvious relief in his voice.
"Good. If I leave the carriage now, then I will be able to find the Puffskein before any of my children or my wife finds me," Arthur said.
The carriage came to a stop and Wilson opened the door almost immediately, feeling and sharing his master's urgency. Arthur stepped out of the carriage and went towards the gardens where the Puffskein always resided, intent on eating all of Molly's vegetables.
"Father!" Ginevra called happily, running down towards him.
Arthur stopped in shock and shook his head.
"No. It cannot be," Arthur muttered, misery and despair filling his voice.
"Welcome home, Father! Oh, you got a red rose, just like I asked for! Thank you so much, Father!" Ginevra said joyfully, standing on her tiptoes to kiss his forehead. "Is something the matter, Father? Why do you look sad? Are you not happy to be home?" Ginevra asked, seeing her father's sad face.
"Nay, daughter, I am. It is just that...Ó he trailed off; he was unable to tell her of the fate he had resigned her to. ÒI am very happy to see you and to be home, I just need some time alone with your Mother. Wilson, please get the gifts for my children," Arthur said.
Wilson bowed at his request, looking inexplicably sad too, and then went to the carriage as Arthur hurried inside.
"Wilson, are you able to explain Father's odd behaviour?" Ginevra asked, confused.
"I am able to, but nay, Ginevra, I cannot tell you," Wilson said sadly, retrieving the bags from the carriage.
Ginevra took as many bags as she could carry. Wilson sighed with a hint of a smile, knowing that it was impossible to argue with Ginevra that it was not her job to help. At first, the servants had all tried to refuse her help, but seeing the hurt on her face they had stopped soon enough and now, Ginevra could often be seen around the house, helping the servants with their chores.
"Where is the Puffskein?" he asked as they walked back to the castle, carrying the bags between them.
"Frederick and George used it for Beater practice and Mother is not happy with them, even though it used to eat all of her plants," Ginevra said. "I think they should have asked Father for a Bludger instead of slime," she said with a smile.
"Nonsense, dear sister!" Frederick and George protested, coming up behind her. "We can just transfigure the slime into a Bludger if the need arises, but it is impossible for us to change a Bludger into slime," they said practically with a wink.
"Children! Please, come inside straight away! Your father needs to speak with you," Molly called from the door.
"Coming, Mother!" Frederick and George said, rushing to get inside, positive that Father only wanted to see them in order to give out his gifts.
"I will be there in a moment, Mother. I will just put these in the dining room for Wilson," Ginevra called.
"No, Ginevra. Your father needs to speak to all of you at once," Molly said.
"It is all right, dear. I will help Wilson with the bags," the cook, Daria, said kindly.
"Thank you, Daria," Ginevra said with a smile then went over to her mother. "What is wrong, Mother? Why was Father upset to see me? Have I angered him in any way?" Ginevra asked.
"Hush, child. Your father will tell you when you are seated with your brothers," Molly said quietly, ushering her daughter to a seat between Frederick and George.
Ginevra looked to her three brothers, amazed at how uncharacteristically silent they all were. They were reflecting Father's mood, and it was increasing Ginevra's sudden fear.
"You all know your sister asked for a rose," Arthur began, the four nodding. "As you can see, she received the rose, but it is at a price... I tried to get the rose from a lion's property, and he caught me as I was leaving, even though I had left three Sickles for the fallen rose. In return for my life, I promised the lion that I would give him the first thing that met me on my return home. I thought that it may have been the Puffskein, which I heard what you two did with, by the way," Arthur said looking at his twin sons pointedly.
Frederick and George flushed and gave him innocent looks that were uncharacteristically ignored.
"I will deal with it later," he said to their relief, continuing the tale. "However, it was your sister that met me first, and so Ginevra has to go to the lion's castle tomorrow morning. I fear we may not see her alive again," Arthur finished; his entire body now trembling with regret and fear.
"Do not cry, Father," Ginevra said and hugged him. "I will be all right," she said, pushing away her own fears.
"I am so very sorry, Ginevra! I should have refused the lion and just faced your disappointment," Arthur sobbed.
"Father, do not be silly. If you had refused the lion, then you will not have been here to tell what had happened! I am thankful that you are alive, that is all that matters," Ginevra said and kissed his head. "I will go to the lion in the morning, as you promised, and perhaps I may soothe him so that I am able to return to you all," she said with a smile.
Molly came over to her husband and gave him his handkerchief. Arthur blew his nose noisily.
"Perhaps, daughter. I am sure that a person as lovely as yourself could tame the wild lion," Arthur said giving her a small smile.
"The gods' know that we couldn't do it," Frederick and George said grinning at her, attempting to make Ginevra smile.
She did so and they hugged her, kissing her cheeks.
"You will be fine, dearest sister," they whispered quietly.
"Do you think that the lion will take me instead?" Ronald asked suddenly, looking at them.
"As nice an offer as that is, Ronald, I promised the lion I would give him the first thing that met me," Arthur said sadly.
"Do you still have your Time Turner, Father?" Ronald asked desperately. "I do not wish to just let my sister be handed over to a wild lion and never be seen again!" he cried.
Ginevra hugged her brother tightly. "I will return to you. I promise, my dear brother. I will not be eaten by a wild lion," she said determinedly. "Mother has the clock to know if I am safe or not. If I am not safe, then you may come with your friends to rescue me," she said with a smile. "Now, Father... I do believe that you have some presents to give out," Ginevra said in an effort to change the subject to a happier note.
"Of course! Wilson, may you bring the bags out please?" Arthur asked.
"Yes, my Lord Arthur," Wilson said with a bow, retreating to the dining room.
Ginevra left the room to help him and found Daria, Marietta and Harold waiting in the corridor, having been listening to their conversation.
"Are you really going to leave us, Ginevra?" Marietta asked sadly as they went with her to the dining room.
"Yes, I am leaving you. I hope it to be a short while, but if it is not, then you must be strong for my family. I want you to all look after Mother and Father when I am gone. Father refuses to admit that he is losing health and I am just sad that I will not be able to be by his side when his winter sickness worsens," Ginevra said sadly. "Make sure to help Mother when Father gets a fever," she said.
"Of course, Ginevra! We will always be strong and help your family," Daria said. "I will personally make sure that your Father gets a Pepperup potion," she said with a smile.
"Thank you, Daria," Ginevra said, taking the last bag from the table.
"I will make sure that your room is kept tidy for your return, Ginevra," Marietta said attempting to smile.
"Thank you, Marietta. Harold, you must try to help Mother with the boys. Attempt to get them to help you with the maintenance around the house. Well, Ronald at least. I do not want poor Mother to have a heart attack after Frederick and George 'fix' the kitchen with their pranks," Ginevra said smiling.
"Of course, Ginevra," Harold said with a small bow.
"Ginevra, you should seat between your brothers so you can receive your gifts also," Wilson said.
"Thank you, Wilson," Ginevra said and gave the bag to her father before doing as he said.
Frederick and George wrapped their arms around her to offer as much comfort as they could, while Ronald took her hand. She smiled gratefully between them and tried not to think of the following morning.
"Frederick and George, your presents," Arthur said, and they received a small gift-wrapped box each.
They opened them and grinned seeing the Prankster pack from Zonko's Joke Shop.
"It has green slime, as well as a book of tricks, potions and spells," Arthur said smiling at them.
"Thank you, Father!" they said excitedly, hugging him before returning to their position on either side of Ginevra.
"Ronald, your gifts," Arthur said, handing him an orange bag.
Ronald looked inside the bag and his mouth fell open in shock.
"A Chuddley Cannons poster, shirt and jumper?! That must have cost you a fortune! Thank you so much, Father!" Ronald said in excitement, hugging him tightly.
"Do not worry over the price, Ronald... I was able to get them cheap because the new robes are changing slightly and they were eager to get rid of the old stock. The poster is signed by the players," Arthur said.
Ronald undid the scrolled poster and again, his jaw dropped in shock seeing that it was, indeed, signed by all of the Chuddley Cannon players.
"I... I do not know how I can ever thank you, Father!" Ronald exclaimed.
"Thank you is quite enough, Ronald," Arthur said watching his son in amusement.
"Molly, your gifts," Arthur said passing his wife a medium weighted bag.
"I did not know that wool weighs this much, Arthur," she said with a smile before looking into the bag.
Molly let out a cry of joy before pulling out a new set of knitting needles, a cross-stitching packet with needles and cotton, and a small bag of different coloured wool.
"Oh, thank you, Arthur! This is wonderful!" she said, kissing him.
"Mother! Do not do that in front of us!" Ronald winced.
"Harold, Marietta, Daria and Wilson, you have gifts also," Arthur said smiling at them.
"Thank you, Lord Arthur," they said, moving forward.
Harold received a new hat and pair of gardening pliers; Marietta a new puzzle book and washing basket, as the twins had accidentally ruined her previous one; Daria was given a cookbook and a crochet set; and Wilson was given a new pair of riding gloves and boots for when he went out on the horses.
They all thanked Arthur genuinely and stepped back to see what Ginevra would be given from the last bag.
"Ginevra, your second gift," Arthur said passing the bag to her.
"Thank you, Father. Did you get nothing for yourself?" she asked in surprise.
"Coming home to see all of you is gift enough," Arthur said, smiling. "Open your bag and see what is inside," he cajoled.
Ginevra opened the bag and pulled out a book. Seeing the title she smiled broadly and hugged her father tightly.
"I had thought you had forgotten about it, Father! Thank you so much! It is a wonderful gift!" she said, hugging him again.
"I am not that old yet as to forget the title of your favourite book, daughter," Arthur said with a smile, glad that Ginevra was happy again. "I am very glad you like it, Ginevra," he said hugging her back.
"Mother, can I have leave of helping Daria please? I would very much like to read my new book," Ginevra pleaded.
"If it is not an inconvenience to Daria, then you may," Molly said with a smile.
"It is fine, dear. You already helped me enough before Lord Arthur returned home," Daria said with a smile.
"Oh, thank you, Daria! Thank you, Mother! Thank you again, Father! Father, Mother, brothers, if you will excuse me," Ginevra said with a small curtsy as she left the room. She quickly ran upstairs to her bedroom to read her book.
Ronald grinned seeing her sitting on the window seat, engrossed in the book. His grin faded when he saw her trunk packed and sitting beside her bed.
"Ginevra, dinner is ready," Ronald said from her door.
"Thank you, Ronald. Where are we dining this evening?" Ginevra asked as she marked her book and walked over to him.
"Mother and Father are allowing us to dine in the living room instead of the dining room," Ronald said with a smile.
"That is nice of them. I am surprised you are not wearing your new shirt," Ginevra said teasingly.
"I do not wish for it to get dirty with dinner. Besides, I have it under lock, key and spell to make sure that Frederick and George cannot get to it," he added proudly.
"Then it should be safe," Ginevra said smiling.
"After you, sister," Ronald said with a small bow when they arrived at the living room.
"Thank you, dear brother," Ginevra said and walked in, Ronald following her.
"Are those chicken wings?" Ron asked eagerly as he sat down next to his sister.
"No, Ronald. They are turkey legs," Frederick and George said, laughing as he pulled a face at them.
"Do not tease Ronald so! His stomach may go into shock," Ginevra said teasingly, smiling at them.
Ronald just grinned and took a chicken wing, ignoring their teasing.
"May Harold, Marietta, Wilson and Daria join us tonight, please Father?" Ginevra asked kindly.
"Of course, dear daughter," Arthur said with a smile, encouraging their servants inside with a wave of his hand.
Delighted, they sat down at the table. After a long moment of silence, Ginevra started to talk to Marietta of her book, her excited voice encouraging the others to talk also. They all talked with one another cheerfully, attempting to ignore the feeling of loss just as easily as Ronald had ignored his sibling's teasing.
After they had finished dining, Ginevra read a few chapters from her book, her light and soft voice never wavering, as she looked from the words on the pages to her sad, yet smiling family and friends.
They went to bed with the saddening knowledge that morning was ever approaching.
End of the first chapter!
Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed it!