Chapter 1 : In Which Bill Meets Babbling Belinda
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William Arthur Weasley found out at the age of six that he was going to die before he was thirty.
His mother, Molly, had taken him and his little baby brother, Charlie, to Diagon Alley with her as she’d had some errands to run in the wizard shopping area. William, otherwise known as Bill, had been reluctant to go in the first place, complaining loudly to his mother that it was boring and he’d have nothing to do. In response, his mother had exasperatingly told him to mind his little brother.
So Bill found himself seated at a small ice cream table at Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor trying to get a bite of the brownie sundae his mum had purchased before Charlie threw the last spoonful on the ground to join the previous five spoonfuls of vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. His mum was busy chatting with Florean at the counter to notice that the baby was making a right mess of things and Bill was getting frustrated. He hadn’t even gotten one sweet and delicious bite yet!
Sitting on his knees and leaning halfway across the table, he stretched with his spoon to dip it into the golden bowl that had somehow made its home right next to the happily slobbering two-year-old. Charlie had some brownie crumbs in his ginger hair and ice cream all over his mouth and was waving his spoon just as they’d seen Mummy do it but with messier results. Just as the tip of his spoon touched the edge of the bowl, Charlie gave one great flourish with his spoon and knocked the bowl over, sending the rest of the sundae to the floor in a great golden bowl, brownie, ice cream and sauce catastrophe.
The boys stared at the destruction with wide eyes, watching the bowl make one final round until it stilled face down on the floor.
“Bill!” His mother’s voice crashed through the silence. He looked up to see his mother slowly advancing on him, hindered only a little by her pregnant belly, anger clear in her brown eyes.
He shot straight out of his chair, hands going up in the immediate motion of surrender (he’d seen it in one of those Muggle movies his dad had snuck him to once). “It wasn’t me! It was Charlie!” He pointed an accusing finger at the giggling baby.
She stopped in front of him, one finger wagging sternly in his face. “You were supposed to watching him, Bill! You’re the older brother and supposed to be responsible!”
He wanted to make a disgusted face at that word: “responsible”. He was always the responsible one. Well, sometimes, he couldn’t always be the responsible one, especially when it wasn’t his fault!
He didn’t say anything though, just glared up in defiance at his mum and then looked at his brother who still seemed to think that there was nothing wrong and was now taking the remaining ice cream spill on the table and spreading it across his cheeks.
He could feel his face getting hot. He hated it when his mum yelled at him. “It wasn’t my fault!” His fists clenched and he felt an angry yell building up in his chest.
Molly had whisked her wand out to clean up the mess on the floor and had produced a kerchief from somewhere in her purse, using it liberally on the now squirming Charlie. “Don’t argue with me, Bill Weasley. We’ll take this up at home,” her voice was stern.
“No, we won’t! Because I’m not going home!” He stamped his foot for good measure, turned and ran out the door, ignoring his mum’s calls behind him.
He ran blindly through the Alley, pushing past the other pedestrians, not caring where he was going. He could feel hot angry tears running down his face and he swiped at them.
Ever since Charlie had been born, Bill felt like he’d been relegated to the background. His mom never had time for him anymore. When he tried to climb up on her lap, he’d find Charlie already there. It was always Bill who would be in the wrong, just because he was older.
So caught up was he in his thoughts that he didn’t notice the wizened old woman until it was too late.
A gnarled hand reached out from nowhere and took hold of the young boy’s arm, wrenching him to a stop and pulled him into a darkened alley. Bill fought against the hard grip but though the hand that held him was old, it was strong.
“Little Bill Weasley won’t want to be saying anything right now, right? Little Bill Weasley knows better than to run, right?”
The boy froze at the hissed words. Frightened, he nodded jerkily, ginger hair flying with the force of his motion.
The grip on his arm loosened a little. “Good.”
He had ended up in an alley off the main street. Trash littered the narrow street. The walls were filled with posters, most torn and tattered. The parts not filled with promotional paraphernalia was graffitied with some type of paint that changed the words every few seconds. Bill stared at one that had originally read “Blastin’ Brothers” which had faded into “Rocks!” as he watched. He didn’t want to find out who had taken him just yet so continued to watch the graffiti as it faded back into the original message.
The hand on his arm twisted him around and he found himself face to face with a woman who was uglier than Auntie Muriel (and that was saying something). Her face was almost all wrinkles, so old was she, and she had a wart with a single hair on the tip of her nose. Her eyes were small and reddened while her head fought to keep the few gray wisps that blew every which way. She smiled toothily at him, showcasing the crooked yellow molars and the rotting cavities where he supposed she used to have teeth. He made a promise to himself that he would always brush his teeth from this point on.
“Little Bill Weasley! How I have been waiting for you!” she proclaimed, bringing up both her wrinkly hands to squish his cheeks together. He tried not to recoil, not knowing what her reaction would be. After a moment, she dropped her hands so that she could indicate herself in a very showy fashion with one while keeping a hand on his shoulder. “I am Babbling Belinda and you have come to me to find out your future.”
He thought it was best that he not point out that she had in fact dragged him over to her.
“I saw that today would come and have been waiting for six years to tell you this! Hic!” she burped loudly, not even bothering to cover her mouth.
He wrinkled his nose in disgust, leaning away from her as far as he could with her hand still on him. She reminded of how his dad had come home once and acted really funny, trying to pick up and carry his mum around the room like an airplane and then fallen on the floor because he couldn’t walk straight. He’d been burping then too, loudly. Bill had found it quite hilarious until his mum had untangled herself from his father and yelled at him to go up to his room.
“Come here, boy,” she said genially, tugging on his shoulder to bring him closer to her face. Before he got too close, he took one great gulp of air and held it. No way was he going to breath her in.
“You’re a good lad, aren’t you?” she asked in a sing-song voice. He nodded his head vigorously, hoping that agreement with this crazy lady would allow him a chance to escape quickly.
“That’s sad,” her eyes fell a little, “it’s always the good ones that go first.”
And he was frightened again. He could feel his face turning a litle purple and his head felt a bit light but he didn’t want to exhale because then that meant he would have to inhale and he didn’t want to breather her in. He fought the dizziness that threatened to sweep over him.
“What I—” she cut off abruptly, her hand tightening on his shoulder painfully, her claw-like nails digging into him. Her eyes had gone round and a strange light had suffused her irises, turning them a pale shade of blue. Shed brought her face an inch apart from his so he could almost see his reflection in her eyes. Bill gasped, scared, unable to help himself but not even noticing the woman’s stench as she started speaking once more.
“IN YOUR THIRTIETH YEAR, DEATH WILL MEET YOU AT ITS GATES. BEWARE THE ROSE, THOUGH IT IS SWEET, ITS THORNS WILL BE YOUR END.”
Babbling Belinda shook herself, the last of her eerily booming voice fading against the dirty walls around them. She again smiled toothily at the young boy who had gone white as a sheet at her pronouncement. “Now off you go, hup hup,” her voice in its normal rasp. She turned him towards the alley entrance, giving him a little nudge when he didn’t move.
Woodenly he moved to the entrance, his legs feeling awfully heavy, his head strangely blank. He looked back before he set foot in the main street. The alley was empty. Babbling Belinda had disappeared.
“There you are!” His mother’s voice roused him from his stupor. He looked in the direction he’d heard it from and saw her pushing her way through the other witches and wizards, Charlie on her hip and her temper still in full steam. But as she got closer, her angry frown turned concerned and she stooped in front of him as much as her stomach would allow.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, motherly anxiety coming to the fore.
He stared at her for a moment, looked at little Charlie and then at the roundness of her belly where he’d been told another little brother or sister resided. He did not need to tell her what Babbling Belinda had just told him. There was no use in her worrying now when it wouldn’t do any good. He knew his mother loved him despite his earlier tantrum. But when he died, she wouldn’t need to miss him, she would have plenty of other children to love.
His decision made to protect his mother from his doom, he pasted a smile on his face and replied, “I’m all right” even though he was far from it.
I’ve been wanting, for some strange reason, to have a couple of HP WIPs going. I think mainly to break up the drama that is “Bend or Break”. So here you go.
Inspiration struck in the form of a renewed fascination with the Weasleys (which I attribute to TenthWeasley’s “Growing Up Weasley”, something that should be read because it is SO DARN CUTE) and with my love for Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton Series.
I’m kind of thinking about doing a series of short stories on the whole Weasley family á la Bridgerton but am not sure if my attention will hold, though I already basically planned it out for each pairing :P
I’m sure you can guess which Bridgerton book this story is based off of :) and if you haven’t noticed it already, you will in the later chapters: there is no Voldemort.
As always, the world of Harry Potter and the characters and settings within belong to J.K. Rowling. The story plot is based on Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series (though it isn’t exactly the same).
Please review! :)
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