Prompt Arthur Weasley/Newton Pulsifer
Fandoms: Harry Potter/Good Omens
Pairings Arthur Weasley/Newton Pulsifer, Arthur Weasley/Molly Weasley, Newton Pulsifer/Anathema Device
Their eyes first met across a windowless, fluorescent-lit technical support office.
It had been Newt’s seventh visit in two days and he was starting to suspect that the United Holdings Headquarters tech support team felt slightly less than affable towards him. It really wasn’t fair. He hadn’t meant to cause the network crash or the mass e-mailing of Anathema’s wholemeal bread recipe to everybody affiliated with the company; and nobody had managed to conclusively divine whether or not it had been his attempt to get the photocopier to do doubled-sided printing that had caused every burglar alarm within a three mile radius to simultaneously go off.
“Take a seat Mr. Pulsifer,” the woman behind the desk had said with a resigned sigh, before going back to the telephone conversation she was having with the people who’d created the company’s new accounting software.
“Look, every time somebody tries to generate the predicted outgoings for the next financial year they get a pop-up wishing them a Happy Chinese New Year. Now either this is some sort of… well, of course we’ve tried that… no, I don’t think so… not without shutting down the whole network….”
Newt did his best to hide the guilty expression that threatened to engulf his face. The new accounting software in question had by all accounts been functioning soundly until he’d tried to change the screen saver on his terminal.
As the technician continued to expound upon the extent to which United Holdings’s operations had been compromised by said software, the door opened and very peculiarly dressed red haired man walked into the room. It wasn’t so much that any single item of clothing was particularly outlandish, more the manner in which they’d been combined. The ensemble began with a pair of Nike trainers, was followed by a pair of pinstripe trousers, then joined in short order by a formal dinner jacket and topped off with a trilby. He was also, for some inexplicable reason, holding a portable espresso maker. Despite the odd garb the thing that struck Newt most about man was the expression on his face; the mixture of puzzlement, excitement and amicability that reminded Newt vaguely of his own on the childhood pictures his mother had taken while he’d been conducting his ‘experiments’.
He smiled at the man.
The man smiled back.
A moment of almost subliminal fellowship seemed to pass between them.
“Er… hello,” said Newt.
“Hello,” the man replied, with a jovial wave.
The woman at the desk visibly blanched and proceeded to launch a volley of complex sounding and irrelevant enquiries at the person on the other end of the phone. It seemed almost as if she were attempting to delay some kind of inevitable horror.
“Terrible Weather we’re having isn’t it?” he said, feeling somehow obligated to make small talk, despite the absence of any talent for it.
“Oh I don’t know,” said the man cheerfully, “I seen much worse over the sea near Azkaban… I mean, er, Iceland.”
Newt nodded politely, briefly wondering if this Azkaban place was somewhere in the former U.S.S.R. “I’ve heard that things can be pretty bad around the artic.” It was, he thought, possibly the most inane and pointless comment that one could make; yet he was unable to stop himself.
“Not as bad as the Antarctic though. I went to conference there once: took me days to get warm afterwards.”
Newt’s brow furrowed. “You went to a conference in the Antarctic.”
“I was deputy head of the Department of International Mag- Resource Development at the time.”
“Really,” said Newt, feeling impressed, he was clearly talking to one of the company’s top men. “I didn’t even know that we had a Department of International Resource Development.”
“Oh, I wasn’t working here. It was for the Ministry.”
The man nodded, suddenly looking slightly uncomfortable, almost as if he’d said something that he shouldn’t. “I’m the Ministry liaison to United Holdings. I’m here to write reports on how you function.”
“Is this about the Smith Affair?” asked Newt, dropping his voice. The Smith Affair, as it had come to be known, had involved one of the company’s managing directors and twenty-five million pounds of Columbian drug money. The rest of the board had been quick to ban all mention of the incident. Needless to say, this move had ensured that it would be the number one subject of office gossip for months to come.
“Smith Affair?” queried the man, looking perplexed. “I mostly just examine the equipment you all use, like the computers.” His eyes seemed to mist over slightly. “Wonderful things computers; especially that ‘Minesweeper’ game.”
Newt nodded enthusiastically and decided against mentioning the fact that he’d been sent for counselling after becoming addicted to Minesweeper six months ago*. “Has Microsoft Office crashed on your computer too?” he eventually asked.
The man shook his head. “Mildred’s – that’s what I’ve decided to call her - working all right. It’s just that I bought this Mug…I mean, ‘espresso machine’ here at second hand shop yesterday and it’s not working. So I thought I’d come and ask about it down here.”
Newt looked down at the machine he was carrying. Something very obvious struck him about it.
“Er, I don’t mean to be rude, but have you, er, thought about attaching a plug to that wire.”
In the space of a second the man’s face went from amicable to amazed to delighted. “That’s it!” he exclaimed, “You’ve got it. A plug. That’s what it needs.”
Newt felt an overwhelming surge of pride. He’d help somebody with a technical problem. What he was about to do next however, violated every ounce of good sense in his body. “Would you like me to do it for you?”
The man veritably beamed. “Well, I thought I’d have a go of it myself, but you’re very welcome to come and help. What with you being so well up on how these things work.”
Newt grinned back. “Wow, thanks…er, I’m sorry I don’t know….”
“Arthur, Arthur Weasley.” The man stuck out his hand, a move that very nearly sent the espresso maker crashing to the ground.
“Newton Pulsifer, but everybody calls me Newt.”
“I don’t mean to be rude,” said Arthur, dropping his voice, “but I don’t suppose that there’s any chance that we could fix it at your house. Only my wife can get a bit annoyed if she finds me tinkering with bits of Mug…machinery.”
Newt nodded. “Anathema - that’s my fiancé – got a bit irritated with me messing about with things in the house too, so she got me a shed.” He neglected to mention that the shed had come about when his attempt to fix the old washing machine had caused a small fire in the kitchen.
After Newt provided the address of Jasmine Cottage and gave detailed instructions as to how to use the lift (a piece of machinery that Newt had learnt to avoid at all costs), Arthur ambled back out of the office.
It was, Newt thought, rather a coincidence that his departure occurred just a few seconds before the tech support assistant put down the phone.
“What is it today Mr. Pulsifer?” she asked.
“Er, Microsoft Office won’t work on my terminal. Every time I try to load it the computer tells me that I need to recharge the battery, wherever that is. I mean, I did try to phone to let you know I was coming down, but every time I dial an internal number I get a…a….” He looked down at the floor. “Well, one of those premium rate things.”
Her brow creased. “What, you mean a sex line?”
He could feel his cheeks start to redden. “Yes.”
She gave another exasperated sigh. “I’ll have a word with the phone company.”
The following day at half past six Newt new sat in the living room of Jasmine Cottage in a state of mild anxiety. He had, against all odds, somehow managed to convince Arthur Weasley: Ministry Liaison that he was technologically proficient; and he was now about to be put to the test. It hadn’t help that the days work had involved four trips down to the tech support office. Fortunately for Newt however, the woman at the desk had been directing all her exasperation at an oddly familiar man, who wore dark glasses and exuded a distinct aura of ‘Flash Bastard’ and who seemed to be intent on getting her to sign some sort of contract. Just think of it Sally, the Flash Bastard had said seductively, you’ll never have to deal with another person who can’t differentiate between a modem and a monitor again. For some reason Newt had felt strangely relieved when ‘Sally’ had threatened to call security.
The doorbell rang.
When Newt answered he found Arthur espresso maker in one hand, toolbox in the other, standing on the doorstep in a state of child-like glee.
“Sorry it took me so long to get here,” he said. “It’s just that this place is a bit out of the way. No reliable fl- rail network around here.”
“Tell me about it,” said Newt, with a slightly nervous smile. “The shed’s round the back.”
Newt however needn’t have worried. On seeing the array of power tools that Newt had in his possession Arthur’s behaviour became almost reminiscent of a child in a sweet shop. Newt in turn was impressed that Arthur’s tool box contained several items that looked like they dated back to sometime during the Seventeenth Century. It was also a huge relief to discover that the man’s knowledge of electrics was somewhat, well, patchy. He seemed to know, in theory at least, exactly how a nuclear power plant worked, but didn’t have the first idea as to how one went about changing a light bulb. This, combined with the obvious peculiarity of his dress, served to convince Newt that Arthur was clearly an upper class eccentric, who had a house full of servants and a wife who was horrified at the idea of her husband indulging in something as plebeian as ‘messing about with bits of machinery’.
“…so you see,” he said, screwdriver in one had plug in the other, “you connect the blue wire here and the brown wire here and finally the striped wire there. And then you put the fuse in and the top back on. Then it’s ready to plug in.”
“Shall we try it?” asked Arthur excitedly.
He put the newly attached plug in the socket and tentatively pressed the on-button.
For several seconds nothing happened.
“Well, this can sometimes happen,” he said. “It just means that we’ve….” He trailed off as the machine began to make a whirring sound, which was quickly followed by the sound of a man’s voice saying something about collecting a passenger from Number Seven Wentworth Terrace. “…some how managed to pick up the radio frequency used by the local taxi company.”
He looked apologetically at Arthur. “I’m sorry about this.”
“Sorry?” said Arthur, with a puzzled expression. “What’s there to be sorry about? This is marvellous.”
“It is,” said Newt, weakly. “Oh good.”
Over the following weeks Newt and Arthur found themselves spending increasing amounts of time in Newts shed, tinkering about with the espresso maker. While they hadn’t yet succeeded in getting the thing to actually make espresso they did manage to pick up several more radio frequencies, including one used by the French military. They also accumulated a broken toaster with a tendency to explode when brought into contact with any sort of wheat product and a remote control car that wouldn’t go unless placed on a 27.5 degree incline.
Arthur had never had quite so much fun in his life. Molly Weasley however was getting just a little annoyed and suspicious. She knew that men of a certain age sometimes started to act strangely. Witch Weekly had called it The One Third Life Crisis and advised witches to be patient and try not to get too irate when their husbands brought home new racing brooms and took up Extreme Gobstones in a futile attempt to recapture their lost youth. Molly Weasley however was not by nature a particularly patient person, raising seven children tended to sap one’s reserves of the stuff; and it was thus that on the sixth week of Arthur coming home three hours after he’d finished work** she decided to confront he issue head on.
“Arthur Weasley, I demand to know what’s going on.”
“What do you mean love?” said Arthur, drawing upon all the reserves of wilful ignorance that he possessed.
“What I mean,” said Molly, going from annoyed to irate, “is that I demand to know what you’ve been doing every night for the last six weeks. Is it another witch, Arthur?”
Arthur’s eyes widened in shock. The thought of getting ‘involved’ with another witch had never entered his mind. “No dear, of course not.”
“Then what have you been doing?”
“I’ve… er, been conducting a study on Muggle habits.” He told himself that this wasn’t an outright lie. After all, he had notice that Newt had several habits, they mainly seemed to be 'biting nails' and 'apologising for singed eyebrows', but they were habits nonetheless.
“Yesterday your daughter came round to announce that she was engaged to be married and you weren’t there.”
Not sure quite how to react to this news Arthur gave an amicable half-smile “Ginny's engaged, who to?”
Looking thoroughly exasperated Molly shook her head. “It has to stop Arthur. If you care anything for this family you’ll start coming home straight after work again. You spend all day studying Muggles at that place the Ministry’s sent you to observe, you don’t have to do it in your spare time as well.”
It was as he nodded that Arthur Weasley decided to embark upon a highly illegal and ethically dubious course of action. He knew that Molly was right and that he had been neglecting the family, but he felt a connection to Newt and his gadgets that he’d never had with anyone before. Finally he’d discovered that there was somebody else in the world who shared his delight at getting a previously lifeless bit of machinery to buzz and hum and vibrate in a vaguely dangerous-looking manner before it inevitably caught fire. It was almost as if he’d found a soul mate in the unassuming young man… not that he didn’t consider his wife a soul mate, of course he did. He was just elated to have met somebody who shared his interests. Somebody he wanted to spend as much time with as possible.
He therefore felt rather less guilty than he should when he magically altered the memories of seven key members of staff at United Holdings and convinced them that Newton Pulsifer would be out of the building all week, aiding him with official Ministry business. Said staff had never been quite sure which Ministry Mr. Weasley was with, but were always too afraid of being seen to be ‘out of the loop’ to actually ask.
“So you pulled some strings with your friends in the Ministry?” asked Newt, as he drove them towards Lower Tadfield.
Arthur nodded in what seemed to Newt to be a rather guilty fashion. “It’s my wife you see, she’s getting a bit fed up with me being away all the time.”
Newt made a sympathetic gesture. He imagined Mrs. Weasley to be a woman of aristocratic stock with several top civil servants in the immediate family, who didn’t take kindly to her husband spending his free time with members of the lower classes.
Molly Weasley silently fumed. She’d had her suspicions, of course, but she’d never actually expect to have them confirmed. Not like this anyway.
She looked again at the scrap of paper: Jasmine Cottage, Lower Tadfield. So that was where he’d been wiling away the hours while she waited for him at the Burrow. Well, not anymore. Molly Weasley was going to give this… hussy a piece of her mind.
With anger and dignity she rose from her chair and walked over to the fireplace.
“It’s brilliant,” Newt enthused with a grin as he demonstrated on an old square of plywood the capabilities of his new power drill. “Shelves and Carpentry gave it nine out of ten in their performance review."
Arthur grinned back. He wasn’t quite sure why, but there was something strangely appealing about the way the dust scattered about the younger man’s hair as he happily drilled different-size holes through a flimsy piece of nearly-cardboard. It was the same feeling he’d got the first time he’d seen Molly in a nighty***. His eyes widened. Oh no, surely he couldn’t…. could he?
Molly Weasley was rather taken aback by the fact that the dark haired woman who answered the door was so… so young. “Are you….” she trailed off, not quite sure what to say. Her anger had gone from 'boiling' to 'simmer' and she didn’t quite have the level rage needed to start hurling verbal abuse at Arthur’s presumed paramour.
“They’re round the back,” said Anathema. “In the shed.”
Molly pulled a face. “In the shed?”
Anathema nodded. “I’m afraid so.”
Arthur wasn’t quite sure what had taken him from distant speculation to the point of action. Maybe it had been the way Newt frowned when the copper wiring started to fizzle. Maybe it was that wonderfully perplexed expression he’d displayed when the ancient radio in the corner had spontaneously started to crackle. Maybe it was the fumes from the bottle of white spirits he’d knocked over when said crackling had commenced. But Arthur Weasley had been besieged by the urge to kiss a very surprised Newton Pulsifer on the lips.
The kiss had been going on for nearly twenty seconds now and, despite the expression of utter shock, Newton Pulsifer was now kissing him back.
The shed door was flung open.
Arthur pulled away. “Molly!”
Molly looked as though she was about to faint.
“Would you like a cup of tea?” Anathema asked kindly, taking her arm. Despite the mixture of surprise and terror that was coursing through him, Arthur couldn’t help but notice that Anathema was the only person present not doing an impersonation of a rabbit in the headlights.
“Yes dear that would be lovely,” Molly muttered.
“I've got gin as well.”
“That’ll be lovely too.”
Four hours later Arthur and Newt were still standing in the shed. Neither of them had spoken for over half an hour.
Newt was certain that Anathema’s complete lack of shock indicated that Agnes’s hold over her life wasn’t quite as over as Newt had previously thought.
Eventually he gave a resigned sigh. “I suppose that we really ought to go back in and talk to them.”
Arthur nodded; a look of extreme apprehension in his eyes.
Like men walking to their doom they stepped out into the garden.
When they finally plucked up the courage to open the back door they were rather surprised to find Anathema and Molly engaged in what sounded to be a friendly conversation with a strangely familiar man who had ‘second hand book shop owner’ written all over him.
“Hello dear,” said Molly, still rather pale, but wits fully recovered.
“Hi Newt,” said Anathema.
“We’ve decided,” said Molly, taking a sip from one of Anathema’s chipped looking mugs, “that because we’re a bit…”
“Upset,” Anathema supplied.
“Yes, a bit upset. That we ought to have somebody else here while we sort things out.”
“A third party to help mediate the conflict.”
“Which is why Mr. Fell’s here.”
“Er, hello Mr. Fell,” said Arthur, with a small nervous wave.
Mr. Fell nodded beatifically. “I’ve come,” he said in voice that screamed Oxford educated, but which was in fact far older than any university in existence, “to talk to you both about the sanctity of marriage.”
Newt inwardly groaned. It was going to be a very long evening.
* In truth the real reason his near-pathological dependence on the game had been broken was the alarming messages that had started popping up when he tried to open the program. He wasn’t quite sure how the simple act of clicking on the relevant icon could possibly allow him access to the Pentagon’s database, but he didn’t want to take any chances.
** A move that caused the Weasley’s clock, which didn’t have an option for ‘arsing about with bits of wiring, a slight metaphorical headache.
*** Gryffindor Common Room. Sixth year at Hogwarts. Emergency evacuation of the girls’ dormitory following a hoax troll scare.