A/N: A brotherly heart-to-heart I was inspired to write after reading some
negative reactions to Fleurís behavior in HBP. I have always liked her
character, so I wanted to give it a positive spin, though sheís not really the
focus of this piece. I hope you enjoy it! Reviews are always welcome and
Brother to Brother
Bill Weasley stared down at his youngest brother and smiled. Ron was sitting
at Billís bedside, his head resting on his arms on the edge of the bed, and he
was snoring rather loudly. A puddle of drool was forming on his black sleeve,
and his chair was making a light scraping noise as Ronís weight pushed it
Raising his hand, Bill first prodded the side of his own swollen face before
reaching over to poke Ron hard in the shoulder. Ron started, snorted out a
final snore, and sat up in his chair before looking blearily at Bill.
"Whatís going on?" he asked through a slurp. He wiped his chin on the
back of his hand and said, "What time is it?"
"Round about eleven, Iíd say," Bill answered, motioning to the
darkness outside the windows, "though I just woke up myself."
Ron nodded absently and turned to look around the infirmary. "Where is
everyone? How come they didnít wake me?"
There was a pause before Bill replied, as he was straining to sit up higher
in the bed. He noticed Ronís eyebrows knit in concern at his efforts, but Bill
offered him a smile and sank into the pillows. "I imagine theyíre all
asleep right now. Dad dragged Mum and Fleur away just before you, Ginny, Harry,
and Hermione got here Ė about eight, was it? Ė and they havenít been back
since. Theyíre probably exhausted after hovering over me all day and night like
a couple of hens." Bill had awoken the day after the attack to discover
his mother and fiancťe as thick as thieves, and although heíd been eager for
them to bond, he hadnít expected it to be soÖ overwhelming.
"Oh," continued Bill, "and Ginnyís put a note on your back
for Madam Pomfrey."
Ronís face screwed up in confusion as he stretched a gangly arm behind his
back to grab the piece of parchment Ginny had attached there with a Sticking
Charm. Bill had already read it upside down when Ginny had put it on him, just
before she left to go back to Gryffindor Tower with Harry and Hermione.
Dear Madam Pomfrey,
Iíve fallen asleep in my chair like an idiot. Please donít disturb me, as
Iíve not slept properly in days Ė unless my atrocious snoring bothers Bill.
Then you can throw me out on my ear.
Bill chortled at Ronís scandalized expression. "Pomfrey had a good time
with that when she came to rub on my ointment a while ago. Well, at least I
could tell she was having a good time with it, even though all she said was
that she would be the first to be bothered by your snoring. Said sheís heard
enough of it in six years to last her a lifetime."
"How gracious of her," said Ron sarcastically, and in a mumble he
added, "old hag." Then he scooted his chair in and made as if to
stand up. "Reckon I should head back."
Bill thought it felt good to speak of ordinary things, though. Heíd heard
too much bad news and pessimistic theorizing in the past few days, and indeed
the past two years, and he knew it was long from over. Some time with his
brother, whoíd always had a knack for making light of things, was in short
"Stay for a bit, Ron. Itís been ages since Iíve really talked to
Ron shrugged and resettled in the chair. "All right, but Iím not sure
what you mean. Saw you all last summer and Christmas, and thatís more than Iíve
seen you in ten years, really."
"Yeah, but I was a bit too wrapped up in Fleur to spend much time
talking to you."
Bill smirked at Ronís faint blush. He supposed heíd spent more time on
Fleurís lips than heíd thought, but it had definitely been worth it. "No
complaining, little brother. I have it on good authority that youíve done the
Weasley men proud this year. Violet, is it?"
Heíd expected the increase in Ronís blush, but it startled Bill that it
seemed to be more from shame than pleasure. Ron turned his head to the side,
away from Bill, and grumbled, "Lavender: Lavender ĎGiant Squidí Brown.
Tell Fred and George to shove it up their -"
"Now, now, Ron, donít say something Mum would regret," Bill
scolded, not bothering to conceal his mirth. "I already told them to leave
you alone. Itís not as though theyíve had much action inÖ well, ever."
As Bill had predicted, Ron brightened at this. "What? Thatís not what
theyíve told me! They told me that now theyíre famous loads of girls have been
offering to -"
"Stop! Iím too weak right now to hear what those two have been doing
with their groupies," Bill teased. He saw Ronís flash of distress at the
mention of his weakened state and went on. "Trust me, they arenít as
famous as they let on, and theyíre too wrapped up in their inventions for much
of anything else. They probably do all right now, with their shop, but at
Hogwarts even Percy was showing them up."
"But they always said -"
"Listen, you ever see them snogging in the common room after a
Ron grinned broadly and sat up straighter in his seat. "Nope! Those
"Canít blame them too much. I think they were just born like
that," said Bill. He shifted on his pillows to get more comfortable.
"So, youíre snogging Lavender-"
"No!" Ron looked horrified. "We split up two months
Bill was taken aback, as he hadnít heard that, but Ronís earlier reference
to the giant squid fit. "Oh, well you were snogging Lavender, and I
hear Ginny and Harry are all over each other Ė Ďbout time, really." Bill
again found himself laughing at Ronís expression, which this time seemed to be
a mix of revulsion, acceptance, and embarrassment. "Youíre really growing
up, all of you. What about your other friend, Hermione? I reckon sheís found a
snogging partner too." Ronís look went very sour at that last. "Not a
bloke you like, I take it? Itís hard sometimes, having female friends, seeing
them go out with guys we know are prats."
"Or grouchy gits and bloody apes," Ron muttered, not meeting
Billís eyes. His jaw was set and his hands clenched into fists; fierceness
wasnít natural for Ron, though, and he came off as more comical than
"That bad, eh? Iím surprised. Hermione seems to be a brilliant witch,
but thereís no accounting for taste. To tell the truth, I always thought you
and her fancied each other, but I guess not."
Ronís face fell, and Bill knew heíd hit upon something. He mused to himself
about Ronís ability to fluctuate from emotion to emotion so rapidly, but Ron
had always been terrible at hiding how he felt, even as a baby.
"Ah, thereís more to it, then?" Bill asked, though it wasnít
really a question. "Let me guess: One or both of you fancies the other,
thereís jealousy involved, and this is part of the reason she wasnít even
mentioned at Christmas." He thought he already knew the answers, but heíd
let Ron say what he wanted and not scare him off.
Ron appeared to struggle with what to say, but he finally came out with it.
"I didnít mean to hurt her for that long. Well, I sípose I did, but
I didnít think it through." Typical, thought Bill. "And she snogged
Viktor Krum, so -"
"The Viktor Krum?" Bill interjected.
Ron glared at him. "Donít you start. I have to hear about how great he
is from everyone else already." He glared harder. "Yeah, the Viktor
Krum. Ginny says Hermione snogged him. Mustíve been during the Triwizard
Tournament, or maybe she really did go to visit him in Bulgaria before fifth yearÖ." He trailed off, frowning gloomily.
Bill frowned too. "She canít have done. She was with us at Grimmauld Place then," he said. "So she snogged a bloke two years ago. Iím sure
youíve done at least that over two years. Canít hold a girl to higher
Ron was back to his red shade again, and he refused to meet Billís eyes.
"Thereís something Iím missing here," said Bill. "You hadnít
snogged any birds, had you?" Ron shook his head. "Or Hermione?"
He shook it more emphatically. "Are you saying Lavender was the
first?" There was a regretful amount of amazement in his voice.
Ron scowled in what Bill could tell was angry embarrassment. "Surprised
Ginny didnít owl the whole family. She made a big enough deal of it."
"Calm down," said Bill, trying not to look too amused. "Donít
let the fact that our sister is the Weasley who started out with romance at the
youngest age get to you."
"What are you on about?"
Bill barked out a laugh. "Did you think you were the only Weasley to
not get a kiss until your seventh year?"
"You lot all did away with it before third year, I reckon," Ron
said huffily. "Even Percy found a girl whoíd put up with him being a
"Youíll be shocked to know, then, that I think Percy was the youngest
of us, excepting Ginny."
"You think Iím lying," said Bill, "to make you feel better,
but Iím dead serious. Percy it was fifth year, Charlie the summer after Ė some
Muggle girl from Ottery St. Catchpole Ė and Iím not sure on the twins, though I
know they hadnít by the time sixth year was over Ė George told me Fred hadnít
and vice versa. I heard that Fred saw that Chaser he took to your Ball for a
bit, though, so I suppose it was then for him."
"And you?" said Ron, now sounding more upbeat.
"Me, eh? For me it was seventh year too. I was too wrapped up in marks
and Quidditch and my friends to have much luck before that." His unfocused
gaze rested on the ceiling. "Alice Filmore. Lovely thing with black hair
and dark eyes and the best set of -"
Ron made a sort of strangled noise that lost Bill his train of thought.
"Distant memory now," said Bill. "She was a tad light on the
brains; got pretty boring after a while." He found himself thinking of
Fleur and smiling at how her looks put every other girl to shame, and she was
sharp as a tack on top of it.
"Know what you mean," said Ron, breaking him from his thoughts
"Oh? I know you canít be talking about Hermione. Lavender then? Whatís
"Like aÖ girl. I dunno," Ron said, tossing his head in obvious
annoyance. "Sheís like you said Ė hasnít got much of a brain, and she got
boring. All she ever did was giggle and call me stupid nicknames." He let
out a disgusted grunt that sounded like ĎWon Won,í but Bill thought he must be
mistaken on that one.
"Snogging her was fun and all, and we, you know" Ė he glanced at
Bill covertly Ė "did some other stuff. But in the end I just wanted to be
rid of her." Then he said, clearly to himself, "And she yelled at me
in the middle of the common room anyway. I should have ended it months
before." His face twisted in blatant regret; it seemed like too much just
for an overdue break-up.
"We all do it, little brother. I just hope you didnít let that Ďother
stuffí get out of hand, or use it as an excuse. No matter how thick a girl is,
thatís not fair to her."
"It wasnít that!" said Ron in a touchy tone. "We just,
you know, felt around a bit." He was staring at his lap, his cheeks blotchy
as if they were fighting off the blush.
Bill smiled. "Think of it as practice for the next girl, the one that
means a bit more to you Ė or a lot more. The right girl is worth a thousand of
the other ones."
Ron visibly grappled then with wanting to say something and being too shy to
do so. Finally he blurted out, "I think I know this alreadyÖ not your
answer, but who itÖ." He cleared his throat. "What I mean is howíd
you know? About Fleur, I mean."
Ronís ineloquence made Bill laugh again. He mused that Ron probably thought
he was getting enjoyment out of humiliating him, but that wasnít the case.
"I doubt you remember too well what I was like at your age, Ron, seeing as
you were only a kid then, but I was a lot like you. Really, Iím only laughing
because youíre like looking in a Penseive version of myself at your age."
"Thanks, I think," said Ron, and he laughed as well.
"About that question, though," Bill said, sighing and touching his
mangled chin with tentative fingers. "I suppose saying I just knew wonít
help? Hmm. The best way seems to be having your face ripped to shreds and then
waking to find the girl you want to marry still there, feeding you barely
cooked meat and rubbing salve in your wounds."
His attempt to make the situation lighthearted appeared to unsettle Ron, and
Bill couldnít help but feel grateful for having such a top-notch family.
"That doesnít tell you how you would know, though, does it? How
about this: If you think about growing old and wrinkled Ė really think about it
Ė and you canít imagine it without her around, thatís a good sign. Or, if her
flaws can drive you mad sometimes but theyíre some of your favorite parts about
her, and youíd never want to change them, thatís a good sign as well."
Ron didnít say anything, or even acknowledge that heíd listened, but Bill
knew he was weighing what heíd said. Ronís eyes were glazed and fixed on his
hands, and he was picking at a hangnail without much conviction.
After a minute, Bill said, "And another way to tell, I suppose, is if
something like this" Ė he pointed at his face Ė "happened to her and
it wouldnít even occur to you to leave her. Then Iíd reckon you love her. As I
said, it worked for Fleur." There was a fondness in his voice that he
didnít bother to hide. "Mum told me she was great, but I knew that
It was obvious that Ron wasnít sure what to say to that, but nothing needed
to be said. Bill knew Fleur was the girl heíd love forever. He suspected that
Ron knew what girl heíd love forever too, but that something was worrying him
about it, and Bill thought he knew what.
"You know, last summer Fleur was aware of what you lot were saying
about her -"
"I didnít say anything!" Ron cut in, looking anxious. "Harry
"I thought not," Bill said with a laugh. "Doesnít matter,
though. Fleurís too strong to let that stuff get to her; sheís part Veela,
sheís used to girls not taking kindly to her. The point Iím trying to make,
however, is that she knew why the girls werenít so keen on having her
Ron hadnít worked it out yet. "Thought she was just too different for
them," he said.
"Thatís not it. Mum didnít like her because sheís stealing her
firstborn and doesnít seem to defer to Mum while she does it. Ginny didnít like
her for stealing her favorite brother Ė same sort of deal. But Hermione wasnít
disliking her on account of me."
It was clear that Ron was catching on now, his ears glowing red, a faint
glimmer of hope and excitement in his blue eyes.
"Thereís a reason Fleur never kissed you on the cheek, even though you
made an arse of yourself trying to get it to happen." Now Ron blanched.
"She was aiming to not hurt Hermioneís feelings, Ron. Fleur may be cool
and aloof at times, but sheís a nice girl when it comes down to it, and she
told me she would be hurt if she were in Hermioneís place, with you begging
silently for attention from someone else. She canít relate to Hermione much,
and she doesnít get what itís like to not be gorgeous and confident, but she
could see plain as day that Hermione fancied you. In fact, she told me sheís
known for two years. Thought you were sure to be together already by last
summer, and I think she was ticked off a bit that you were both too stupid to
see it. ĎZat Ron and ĎErmione, zay need to be locked in a room togezzer until
zay figure out zat zay are in love,í were I believe her exact words," he
imitated in his poor French accent.
Ron laughed, though it was nervous laughter. "I wouldnít ever call
Hermione stupid," he said, "but I reckon Iíve been stupid about all
"Happens to the best of us," Bill said, trying to assuage Ronís
guilt. "You two have really never talked about it? Nothingís ever
Ron seemed more open now, as though he felt relieved to get all this off his
chest after years of secrecy, and he met Billís eyes earnestly. "Not
really. We didnít talk for a long spell this year Ė when I was with Lavender Ė
not until I was poisoned. Then I sípose we were both trying to stay friends too
much to do anything else." He looked down. "Not that I even knew
where to start. Still donít."
"Suck it up and tell her," said Bill, not envying Ronís position.
"Only thing for it."
Ron gestured helplessly. "Tell her what, exactly? Iím no good at
Bill sighed and said, "Tell her the truth, what you think of her and
that you feel bad about how youíve been treating her Ė because I can tell you
do." He wished someone had given him that advice about women when he was
Ronís age, but as the oldest brother heíd had to find out through trial and
error that the best course with the female half of the population was
straightforwardness. Now Bill could pass it on to his very insecure and
bumbling brother, with whom heíd not anticipated having this conversation when
heíd awoken to find him still sleeping at his bedside.
Giving Bill an awkward smile, Ron said, "Even though you all werenít
much ahead of me with snogging, I bet none of you made such a mess of things as
"Likely not, but then none of us met the girl of our dreams at your
Ron looked away, the moonlight coming in from the windows illuminating his
sudden pinkness, but he appeared quite happy and repeated, "Suck it up and
tell her," to himself in a murmur.
If he was going to say anything more, Bill never found out what, because at
that moment the large infirmary door creaked open and a plate came into view,
followed by a breathtaking woman.
Bill grinned hard, the gashes in his cheeks aching from the effort, and sat
up higher in the bed. "Brought me steak, have you?"
"Bill, you naughty man, you are supposed to be asleep." Fleur came
around the side of the bed not occupied by Ron, set the plate on the night
table, and leaned over to kiss him gently and carefully, her sheet of silver
hair whispering over his cuts and making them feel much better.
"So are you, at the Burrow," said Bill. "Everythingís all
right, isnít it?"
Fleur sat on the edge of the bed and picked up the jar of green ointment.
"Everything is fine. I just couldnít sleep. But I see you Ďave company
already. ĎEllo Ron." She smiled at Ron, whoíd been gazing at the two of
"Hey Fleur," Ron answered distractedly.
Bill squinted at his brother for a second, pondering. Ron had always looked
at him and Fleur with a sort of rapt attention, as though he was attempting to
use them as a visual how-to guide. Now, though, his eyes were filled with
longing rather than observation, and Bill knew Ron was desperate for what he
had with Fleur. He didnít think Ron would have to go without it long.
"I stopped by ze kitchens to get zis for you," Fleur said, and
began feeding Bill bites of steak with her wand. She waited for him to chew
before flicking her wand to send another piece into his waiting mouth. "I
was Ďoping you would be awake. I missed you."
Bill grabbed her hand and smiled adoringly at her. "And I was hoping
you would stop by." Movement in his peripheral vision drew his eyes.
Ron, whoíd stood from his chair, nodded. "Yeah, you two have a good
night. Iíve got to do a couple things before bed."
Bill knew he wasnít referring to schoolwork. "Good luck then."
Ron smiled, though it was aimed in a vague direction. "Yeah.
"Goodnight, Ron," said Fleur, and she snuggled closer to Billís
side on the bed.
Turning back to her, Bill was just beginning to run his fingers up her arm
when he heard Ron say, "Bill?" He looked across the room to where Ron
stood in the doorway. "Thanks."
"Anytime, little brother."
And then Ron left, his body language exuding determination.
"What was zat for?" Fleur put her head on Billís chest and used
one hand to caress any bit of flesh on his face that wasnít raw. Her touch was
Bill hugged her tightly to him. "Something you were right about."
"Zat could be many things."
Bill chuckled. "Thatís true. I think you know the one I mean,
"Ah, one of zem will finally do something, yes?"
Fleur sat up, grabbed the ointment, and began rubbing it on his face again.
"Zey are truly in love, I theenk. Zey will end up togezzer."
Reaching up to stop her ministrations, Bill said, "If heís half as in
love with Hermione as I am with you, he wonít be able to avoid it."
Fleur kissed him then, deeper than she had since his run-in with Greyback.
When she raised her face from his, it was miraculously free of Billís green
ointment and she looked more beautiful than ever. "Would you like to make
a wager on it?"
"Definitely," said Bill. "Ten Galleons on our wedding
"Fifty on tomorrow," Fleur responded without hesitation.
They laughed, Bill heartily, Fleur airily, and then she kissed him again,
and Bill promptly forgot about Ron and Hermione, and everything else except the
girl he loved.