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Chapter 3 : A Yellow Blanket
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He didn’t need a new baby brother; he had four already, thank you very much. No one had even bothered to consult him - and this was, in Bill’s ten-year-old mind, nearly unthinkable. His mother was at St. Mungo’s at this moment, preparing to bring home the new baby, and everyone else was already clustered downstairs excitedly. Even Aunt Muriel, who had been baby-sitting the boys while their father went to the hospital, was trying to look like she cared. But Bill was still up in his room, trying not to feel too bitter. He was failing miserably.
It was an especially warm day for March, and the windows to his room were thrown wide, letting in a slight breeze that ruffled the pages of the comic book on his desk. He leaned his arms on the sill and placed his head heavily on top of them, blowing air harshly through his lips. Dad had come home briefly last night to tell them about the new baby. They’d named him Ronald Bilius, apparently, and even though Bill was resentful, he had to feel a bit sorry for his brother with a name like that.
“William!” Aunt Muriel’s screechy and ear-splitting voice reached him from the sitting room, and he started, hitting his head on the window sill. “William, are you coming down?”
“In a minute, Aunt Muriel, I promise,” he called back, rubbing the sore spot on his forehead vigorously. He bent down and reached under his bed for his trainers, taking as much time as possible to put them on his feet. He slowly untwisted one of the laces, wondering how long he could keep this up. Maybe he could stay here lacing his shoes until Mum came home with Ronald.
No such luck. He heaved himself to his feet, a twisting feeling growing ever stronger in the pit of his stomach, and slowly walked downstairs, feeling that each step was a step further from normalcy.
All of his brothers were in the sitting room with their aunt – Muriel was sitting placidly on the loveseat, trying to ignore Fred and George, who were climbing all over the rest of it. Charlie was bobbing excitedly on his feet, checking the tiny watch on his wrist every five seconds. Percy was reading one of the fairy tale books he’d been given for his last birthday, as always.
“It’s about time you got down here,” said Bill’s aunt grumpily, looking up from the socks she was knitting and giving a mighty sniff through her rather pinched nose. “What would your mother and father have thought, had you not been here to welcome your new brother?”
Bill really didn’t see what the big deal was – he’d welcomed four siblings before this one, it was old now – but he didn’t want to argue with his great-aunt at the moment. He looked around at Charlie instead, who had a large grin plastered across his extremely freckled face.
“What’re you on about?” Bill muttered, stuffing his hands in the pockets of his jeans. Charlie looked confused.
“Our new brother! Or haven’t you heard?” He sniggered, snorting a little bit as he did so. At eight years old, Charlie had reached the point in his life where he found himself utterly hilarious, and hardly anyone else ever did. He glanced at his watch again, and gave an almighty screech. Bill clapped his hands to his ears instinctively.
"Merlin! What was that for?" he said, scowling at his brother.
"Another minute ticked by!" Charlie said, gesturing at his watch. Bill rolled his eyes as far back as they would go. Sometimes Charlie acted like he was two; it was extremely annoying to listen to.
A few seconds later, all the people clustered in the room froze, for two sets of footsteps could be heard outside, moving about on the well-packed dirt that surrounded the front door. A pregnant pause hung thick in the air as its five occupants waited for the next move to be made. The sound of the latch clicking on the front door met their ears, and four pairs of feet went thudding into the hall; only Bill and Aunt Muriel stayed behind.
“Hello boys – careful there, mind your mum, Charlie,” said the voice of Arthur Weasley, sounding extremely pleased nonetheless to see his sons. “Come back into the sitting room, then – George, watch your step, please – and Mum will show you baby Ronald. Come on, now, back you go.”
His voice was getting louder as he neared the room; Bill wanted to go back up to his room until all the fuss calmed down. He stayed stiffly by the fireplace as his family reentered: first the twins, then Percy, then Charlie, clinging to Dad, and finally Mum, carrying something small wrapped in a ragged yellow blanket. It was the same blanket Bill had been brought home in; an inexplicable surge of jealousy welled within him.
“This is Ronald,” said their mum gently, kneeling and peeling back a bit of the blanket so each boy could get a better look at their brother’s face. She moved to her oldest son last, a look he’d never seen before flitting briefly across her face.
“Would you like to hold him?” she asked gently, and he had to keep from raising his eyebrows in surprise. Never before had he been offered to hold one of his siblings when they were so young. His eyes darted around to Charlie, Percy, Fred, and George. And then he frowned – so many brothers. Now he had five.
“No, thanks,” he said coolly, and that look passed across his mother’s face once more; he idly wondered what it meant. His aunt gave another great sniff from across the room, but he ignored her. “Can I go back up to my room, then?” Bill said, wanting nothing more than to be alone at that particular moment.
“Sure, dear,” Mrs. Weasley said, tilting her head slightly as she examined him. He didn’t stop to analyze the look or the tone she used – he turned right around and climbed the stairs straight back up, closing his door firmly and falling straight onto his bed, face in his pillow.
He felt terrible for being such a grouch. He wasn’t usually so unpleasant – and after all, he’d known for nine months now that he would have a new brother or sister in the house. But knowing something is coming, and actually having that thing happen, were two very different things. He was worried, in some small part, that his parents might forget him in the crush of children. He’d been around the longest, after all – they were used to him by now.
A sudden knock on his bedroom door made Bill lean upright on his elbows, his heart thumping rather unpleasantly. “It’s open,” he said, a bit more harshly than he meant to. The door creaked open and Bill’s father poked his head around the frame of the door; he was wearing a very similar expression to the one that had crossed Mrs. Weasley’s face downstairs. Bill turned his face away on the pillow, choosing instead to stare at the wall – for some reason that expression filled him with an odd and regrettable sense of guilt.
“Bill?” Arthur Weasley shut the door gently behind him and crossed to the bed, seating himself upon it. Bill continued to remain stolidly silent, distracting himself by trying to see pictures in the paneling. He somehow knew that if he looked at his father, whatever sort of bitter resolve he’d set against this new Weasley would melt.
“Are you all right?” his father continued, now placing a warm and slightly comforting hand on his son’s knee. “If there’s something bothering you, you only have to tell your mother or me. We always want to hear whatever’s on your mind.”
“I’m fine,” he said, again a bit too unkindly, and scooted a fraction of an inch further from his father. He didn’t want to talk about it – of that he was certain.
“Is this about Ron?”
Bill turned his head again, back towards his father; he was looking at Bill with a somber and rather morose expression. “Why did you have to go and get a new baby?” he blurted out, quite without meaning to. Now he’d started, though, he found it hard to stop, words pouring from his mouth before he could think about them properly.
“I already have a lot of brothers,” he said, feeling selfish but not really caring at the moment. “And they cry all the time, and they smell, and I – well, if you get enough kids then you and Mum are going to forget about me.” He said this last in a rush, wanting to get it out before he lost the nerve. Having finished, he stared at his shoes, waiting for his father to speak.
It was a long time before Arthur made a noise, however. Bill braced himself for yelling – he knew that what he’d said was beyond nasty – but to his surprise, it didn’t come. Instead his father merely cleared his throat and laid a hand on Bill’s head.
“Why haven’t you talked to your mother or me about this before now?” he asked softly, and Bill shrugged. He was already feeling the shame of what he’d said; his neck burned as heat crept up into it. He chanced a look at his father’s face, and was surprised that no anger lived there, only a slight confusion.
“No matter what you do, Mum and I could never, ever stop loving you,” Mr. Weasley said, pulling Bill into a hug. He didn’t fight it. “You are our first-born son, and we love you for who you are, just as we love Charlie and Percy and Fred and George,” he continued. “No new baby could ever change that.”
Bill sniffed, a bit ashamed now of his outburst. He could see that clearly now, and was sorry that he’d been such a grump the whole day. He sat with his arms around his father’s waist for a long time, and the two said nothing, merely enjoying being in one another’s company. Finally, Arthur drew back, smiling fondly upon his son.
“Shall we go downstairs so you can give Ron a proper greeting, then?” he asked, only teasing a little bit. Bill sniffed again and nodded, grinning a bit sheepishly back. Taking his father’s hand, enjoying feeling a bit like a little boy again, they descended the stairs. The rest of Bill’s brothers had been sent to play out in the garden – Mrs. Weasley had apparently wanted to save Bill a little embarrassment, of which he was grateful – and Aunt Muriel was nowhere to be seen.
“I’m sorry, Mum,” Bill said in a quiet voice, crossing to her and snuggling up next to her on the worn couch by the fireplace. She dropped a kiss on his head and then once more pulled back the corner of the little yellow blanket. A tiny pink face – his brother Ron – was sleeping soundly there.
“Do you want to hold him now?” Molly asked gently, and Bill nodded, his throat suddenly oddly tight. The bundle was nestled gently in his arms, and he was surprised by how light it felt. He looked for a moment upon his baby brother, and then an idea struck him – a way, perhaps, for him to make all of this right.
“Take him back,” he said, and his mother lifted the little baby from her oldest son’s arms, frowning slightly.
“Is something wrong?” she asked, but Bill was already halfway out of the room. He mounted the steps two at a time, landing with a large thump on the landing and bursting into his room. He crossed immediately to his old toy box, still sitting in the corner, and began to rummage through it.
He finally found what he was looking for, and slammed the lid closed with a bang. He thundered back down the steps and, panting slightly, skidded back into the family room. His mum and dad were still there, looking utterly befuddled by Bill’s behavior. Wordlessly, he held out the teddy bear in his hands.
Molly’s mouth dropped open. “Bill, is that – is that your teddy bear?” she said. "What was it you named him?"
"Mr. Stuffing," said Bill, a bit embarrassed - it hadn't been one of his more shining moments of intelligence as a child. His mother continued to look at him a bit oddly, as though unsure as to why Bill had suddenly taken to carrying around his old stuffed animals once more.
Arthur, however, seemed to understand. He rose from where he’d taken a seat on the couch and knelt in front of Bill, a kindly smile etched on his face.
“I think Ron will be very pleased to have your bear, Bill,” he said, ruffling his son’s hair. Together they crossed to where Molly was waiting, and Bill carefully laid the stuffed animal next to the baby in his mother’s arms. As though sensing it was there, Ron stirred and clasped a tiny fist around the bear’s paw.
“He likes it!” Bill exclaimed in surprise, not able to keep a wide grin from splitting his face. He gazed upon his baby brother with new eyes, watching as the tiny fingers toyed with the ragged fur on Mr. Stuffing.
Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, having another brother.
A/N: Well it's about time I updated this story! A lot of things - most of them induced by laziness - have prevented me writing and completing another one-shot until now, but I'm rather pleased with how this one turned out, all things considered. I've always sort of felt that at least one of the Weasleys might be a bit resentful to the growing number of kids in the family. I hope you've enjoyed the update, and please keep reading, for there are at least four more stories to come!
September 6: To make chapter 5 correlate with this chapter, Bill's story has undergone a few minor edits. Sorry for the slip-up!
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