The Sugar Quill
Author: bando2  Story: The Defender  Chapter: The Defender
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Bill Weasley paused outside on the path that led to his childhood home

Many thanks to Mystic my pre beta and Gufa my SQ beta

 

 

The Defender

     Bill Weasley paused outside on the path that led to his childhood home. He couldn’t Apparate in because of new wards. That felt so strange. This was his home, no matter where he would travel or what he would see. He could come here and remember italicize He could remember both the good times and the bad because that was what home was. He wasn’t sure he could explain to an outsider what exactly his home was, but it was something special. People just either understood or they didn’t.

      He entered the house and stood in the doorway to the kitchen.  His mother’s back was to him and she was cooking and humming to herself.  He smiled inwardly. She was happy, at least for the moment.

      “Hello, Mum.”

      She turned around, gasped, and smiled. He had been away for a while and she had not known when he would be back. She enveloped him in one of her famous hugs. “Bill dear, you’re home.”

      He grinned and looked down at her, easily remembering the time when it was him who had been looking up. “Yes Mum, I always come home, don’t I?”

      She smiled at him, “Yes, you do, though I’m not sure why.”

      “No one else is here?” he asked curiously.

      “Ginny and Ron are at school, of course, and Fred and George are at their shop; I’m sure they told you they have a flat above the store. Not that the clock tells me much any more.

      Bill looked at the clock on the wall, and noticed that all the hands were pointed at mortal peril. He shook his head slightly- it seemed hard to believe that during the school year the house was so empty. It just wasn’t right.

      He easily remembered that day almost 15 years ago, the summer before he started Hogwarts. Ginny was almost a year old, and the responsibility had fallen to Bill to help take care of his siblings while his mother was busy with the latest baby.

      ****

      It was morning, and Bill bounced down the stairs. He had been 11 for almost 9 months; that meant it was time for his letter. Not just any letter- no, because Bill was not just any boy. It was time for his Hogwarts letter. Bill was wizard. He nodded matter-of-factly to himself. The letter would come today. He knew it. The special school owl… would fly through the window to where he was eating breakfast and would give him The Letter. He couldn’t wait… he never got mail as it was.

      “Mom, is it here?” he almost yelled as he rounded the last corner. He was careful to step on the end closest to the wall so that it wouldn’t squeak

      “Shhhh,” Molly Weasley admonished her oldest son. “You’ll wake your brothers.” Then she smiled. “Go and see, dear, I think I just saw the mail come in…”

      Bill hurried into the kitchen. It was empty- his dad had already gone to work, so that he could come home earlier. Bill was always the first up, so he could spend some time alone. Heaven knows that he wouldn’t get a moment of piece once the twins were up.

      There it was, sitting on the table. He didn’t touch it, but just looked at in awe. In emerald green ink were the words Bill had been wishing for; Mr. William Weasley, 2nd floor bedroom overlooking the paddock, The Burrow. Slowly, trying to control the trembling in his hands, he broke the seal. A second piece of parchment fell out but he paid it no mind. He only had eyes for the writing in front of him.

      Dear Mr. Weasley,

      I am pleased to inform you that you have been accepted to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Enclosed you will find a list of school supplies that you should obtain upon your start here at school. The train leaves from Platform 9 3/4 at 11:00 a.m. on September 1st. I look forward to seeing you at start of term.

      Sincerely,

      Minerva McGonagall

      Deputy Headmistress

      “It came… wicked!” Nine year old Charlie came bounding into the kitchen, interrupting Bill’s thoughts.

      “Yeah,” he said, almost to himself, “yeah, it did. I’m a wizard.” He nodded his head once for emphasis, as if to reassure himself, and then a grin lit his face. “Look at these books, Char.” He sat down next to his brother, who was already digging in to his eggs. “Transfiguration, Charms and Defense Against the Dark Arts. I bet that will be the best class.”

      “I guess that’s the only one where you’ll get to learn about any creatures. Dad said you don’t get Care of Magical creatures until third year.” 

      Bill shrugged; Charlie loved animals and magical creatures. They were alright, Bill supposed, but he wanted to learn spells because there were bad wizards out there. Bill knew there were even if Mum and Dad didn’t tell him outright.   He could tell from the scared looks they tried to hide and the whispered conversations that they had when they thought he was asleep

      “Well dear, it did come, didn’t it? That’s not the letter telling us that we’ve got a squib in the family?”

      Bill laughed, “No Mum, and besides, you’ve known I could do magic from all the times the accidents have happened.”

      “Oh, my dear, they weren’t accidents- no, in fact I think they were godsends. Let’s see, when you were five you summoned Charlie before he pulled that pot of hot water on his head; then when you were eight and Percy tried to drink the ink you banished it into the stew pot. Just last week, when the gnome in the garden tried to bite George’s finger you blew him up, you were so angry!”

She ruffled his hair affectionately. “No, my boy, you’ve always had the magic in you. I knew it from the moment you were born. You’ll be the defender of this lot.” She waved to the freckled faces that had appeared around the table. Charlie beamed and nodded- that was his older brother.  Percy waved his fingers that were ink stained from trying to learn to make his letters. And Fred and George-  or was it George and Fred? No, he had been right the first time, Fred had a great big scrape across his cheek while George had just smeared some red ink on his cheek so that nobody could tell the difference at a glance,- they were grinning up at him. He had the feeling he would be chasing after them for most of his life. It was a good feeling.

      “Yeah, Mum, I will be - I promise.” He reached for Ronnie, who had his little arms out in Bill’s direction. “Go on, Mum, and get Gin-Gin. I’ll hold Ron for a little while- he wants me.” Bill was extremely proud that his youngest brother was so taken with him already.

      It wasn’t until later in the afternoon that Bill realized that his going to Hogwarts would be a problem. Everyone was out in the garden, for the day was pretty mild. Ron was asleep in his swing, which hung from the old oak, and Charlie was building a mud castle assisted by the twins, who in reality just liked the feel of the mud and throwing it at each other. Bill had been working with Percy again on his letters. Percy was getting good, too. He knew how to hold the quill and how to get just the right amount of ink to not make splotches. He was picky about his letters, though, and Bill had to ask Mum to magic the lines on the parchment. Before he left for school, Percy would be able to write his letters without any help or reminders at all. Now Bill was in the kitchen getting tea for everyone—well, it was more like tea for him, Mum, and Charlie and snacks for the rest. Carefully, he poured the tea and three cups of Pumpkin juice. Then he took one of Ronnie’s bottles out of the ice box. With slow and deliberate yet sure steps that were born of much repetition, he turned around and went through the door out to the back garden. His mother had seen him coming and had opened the door for him with a flick of her wand.     He put the tray down and then (seated himself) contentedly. Charlie had wanted to play in the front garden with the twisted, half fallen-over apple tree, but Bill had said no. That was the garden where the gnomes were and even though Bill had gone out and degnomed the garden without his mother asking, he wasn’t sure that he was strong enough to throw the gnomes far enough away; so he had told Charlie that they would play in the back garden. He had seen his mother look at him with that odd gleam she got in her eye when something unexpectedly sad happened, but she had let his decision stand. 

      It was then that Bill realized that he couldn’t go to Hogwarts. His heart sank. His family needed him. If he went to Hogwarts, who would help Percy with the big words as he read bedtime stories? Who would have the energy to chase after Fred and George? Charlie could, but what if they went in opposite directions? Who would entertain Charlie with stories of the different beasts that he had read about in his books or help make the clay statues to play with? Who would open the door for Mum when she had her hands full? Most importantly, who would watch out for Ronnie and hold him when he wanted his biggest brother? No, that was Bill’s job. He was the oldest,; he had responsibility. He just wouldn’t go to Hogwarts- Mum and Dad could teach him all that he needed to know. He swallowed the strange lump in his throat and turned to answer the summons of Percy, who was tugging on his trouser

      Later that night, after all the other kids were in bed, Bill was getting out the chess set to play with his dad. He had given the twins a bath, where more water had ended outside of the tub then in, and then they had all gathered in his room to read the bedtime story. It had been Fred’s turn to pick from the books on the very bottom shelf of Bill’s old, chestnut bookcase. He had quite predictably picked a Silly Sam story about a young boy who liked to do silly things and then got in trouble for it. Bill had handed the book to Percy, who had importantly opened it and started to read, only pausing at “mischievous”. He even stopped to show the pictures around the circle.

      Bill was white tonight, and as he made his opening move his dad asked, “So, son, anything exciting happened today?”

      Bill knew he was asking about the letter, but he just shrugged noncommittally. “No Not really, Dad, you know just Fred and George trying to get into trouble and Percy writing all of his letters neater than me.” 

      Arthur chuckled softly at this. “So you didn’t get any mail?”

      Bill decided that the direct truth would be the best answer. “I got my Hogwarts letter, but I’m not going.” He said it calmly as he moved his bishop to capture his father’s knight, but his hand was shaking slightly.

      “Oh.” Arthur sounded interested. “That’s a big decision to make when you just got your letter.” He moved his Queen two squares down, out of the path of Bill’s knight. “I can’t go, Dad,” Bill said earnestly. He looked up from the board for the first time. “I’m needed here. The younger ones need me and Mum needs me.” 

      Arthur looked surprised, and but then he smiled. “Yes, they do, but what will you do in two years when Charlie’s letter comes? He’ll need you at Hogwarts to show him how things are done. Heaven knows that Hogwarts can be intimidating without someone to help you. You’ll have nothing to worry about, of course, because the prefects will help you and you like figuring things out on your own anyways, but the others will have a much easier time with you there

      Bill looked his dad in the eye, the chess game temporarily forgotten. “You really think so?”

      “Oh, I know so- from personal experience.”

      “Well, I still have to think about what’s best,” Bill replied, but hope was rekindled deep within him. The game went on in silence and as Bill thought about his moves, the war on the chessboard was being mirrored in his mind. ‘I can go to Hogwarts. But who will make sure that Fred and George stay out of trouble, or that Charlie gets a new clay statue of the Hungarian Horntail that he has been wanting?’ Then he remembered earlier that day, when they had all been looking at him expectantly. There was Charlie, who was expecting him to tell all about the new creatures he would discover, and Ron would want to know all about Quidditch. He was fascinated by the pictures of the moving players in Quidditch Illustrated that Bill got in the post.

      “Bill…Earth to Bill, it’s your move.”

Bill blinked and looked down at the board. He smiled. “Checkmate, Dad.”

      Arthur looked at the board, astonished. “Well done, Bill.” He began to clear the board as Bill’s pieces cheered. “All right, you, off to bed. Mum will be up in a bit to say good night.” Bill nodded and began to climb the stairs. He heard noise from Fred and George’s room and frowned - they should have been asleep long ago. He poked his head into the room in question. “What’s the matter, you two?”

      “ ‘ill, ‘ill the deaf eatas are coming!” Fred ran to him and grabbed his leg.

      Now Bill really frowned. He set Fred on his bed and then sat between the two of them. “Who told you that?”

      “Big man…” George started

      “Big scary man,” Fred added

      “Wit white hair,” George said, then he began to grin. “He looked like a girl,” he added, “and Wed told him so.”

      “Fred!” Bill was shocked; well, not entirely, but he couldn’t tell Fred that, “you shouldn’t do that.”

      “Made mummy cwy,” Fred said, sounding very indignant for a four-year-old.

      Bill sighed; it was Lucius Malfoy, by the sound of it. Dad had mentioned him before, and Bill had had his own run in with him when his Dad had taken him to Diagon Alley for his last birthday. “Well, I know something that Mr. Malfoy doesn’t know,” said Bill, getting up.

      “What’s that?” Fred asked curiously

      “It’s a story that I think I should tell you,” Bill said as he tucked Fred and George into the same bed. He pulled a tissue from the pocket of his trousers and wiped the remaining tear form George’s cheek. “Tell stowy, please,” Fred pressed.

      “Of course. I know why no Death Eaters are going to come and get you.”

      “Because Mummy and Daddy are here,” George said. 

      “And you too, ‘ill,” (added) Fred. “You’ll pwotect us.”

      “I’m not much good with out a wand or any training,” Bill said. “But no Death Eaters can get you. Know why?” Two identical heads shook negatively at him. “Because you two were named (after) the two greatest wizards of all time.” Fred and George’s mouths opened wide. “Uncle Gideon and Uncle Fabian. Mind you, you don’t have the exact same names but you’re like them. I remember.”

      “Were they good...”

      “…and strong….”

      “…and bwave?” This time the voices were in unison.

      “Of course they were, and do you know why?” Again, two ginger heads shook from side to side. “Because they were together and they counted on each other. You have to do that too.”      “Always together, wed?”

      “Yep, always together, ‘orge”

      “Good night, you two.” Bill turned to look back at them but they were already asleep, their arms around each other. He smiled and closed the door softly.

      He walked in to his room and grabbed his pajamas, then walked into the bathroom to change and brush his teeth. When he came back his mother was waiting. She looked at him curiously. “Fred and George woke up.”

      She nodded and sat on the edge of his bed. “What’s going on, sweetie?”

      Bill sighed. “I thought about not going to Hogwarts.”

      “Why ever not?” she asked, clearly shocked.

      “You and everybody else need me here.”

      “Oh Bill…” She folded down his comforter. He would be warm enough without it tonight.

      “But then I was talking to Fred and George and they said I would be here to protect them, and I realized that I would be useless without a wand and some training.”

      She smiled that sad smile at him again. “Do you have any idea about what you want to do? Not that you have to know right away, of course…”

      “I do know,” Bill cut her off, in a decided tone. “Mum, I want to be an Auror like Uncle Gideon and Uncle Fabian.” That apparently had been the wrong thing to say, as his mother swiped at a tear. “Oh Mum, don’t cry, I only want to be an Auror until the War’s over, after that I’ll do something less dangerous, okay?

      She nodded and sniffed as she brushed the hair out of his eyes. “You need a haircut.”

“I like it long, Mum.” She shook her head.

“Nope, a hair cut is on the agenda for tomorrow.” Bill knew that he could not argue with that.  She listened as he said his prayers. As she rose to leave, he grabbed her hand. “Mum, what was your favorite subject?”

      She looked down at him, amused. “Transfiguration,” she replied.

      “I think mine will be Defense against the Dark Arts.”

      She smiled at him again. “I think so too.” She kissed his forehead. “Good night, my little defender.” After that, she left. Bill turned over in his bed and let out a contented sigh. He might go away to Hogwarts, but he would always be his family’s defender- and that was how it should be.

 

//
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