Disclaimer: The characters and setting belong to JKR; Le Petite Prince to St. Exupéry, and the plot, to me!
No one will love you like a mother.
And yet, there comes a time when the love of a mother is no longer enough.
When my Bill brought home his wife-to-be…
She was beautiful, breathtakingly so, although I did not see this until much later. To me, she was just a young woman, like any other, standing in our doorway, looking at the kitchen with idealism in her eyes and a determination to somehow belong in our family home. She hid her shock very well, but I knew exactly what she was thinking:
How am I going to belong here?
Our house did not seem good enough for her somehow, not with her long blonde hair and her big blue eyes, and her glow of beauty. It didn't fit into our crowded kitchen, it clashed with our mismatched lounge chairs, and it made our crooked photo frames seem inadequate, somehow.
She did not fit our home.
And, as far as I was concerned, she did not fit my son.
I always knew my Bill was going to do great things. He was such a special child, so helpful with the younger ones, and so bright! I knew it as soon as he was a baby: my dream child, slept through the night at four months when all the others took longer. And I knew then that he was special. My Bill.
My Bill was always meant to grow up, and fall in love and have children. I never expected for that not to happen. I just wasn't ready to acknowledge that this meant I would have to give him up, somehow. I didn't understand that when he fell in love, things would change.
I didn't understand that all of a sudden, he wouldn't be my Bill anymore.
Almost overnight, and completely without my knowledge or approval, or permission, he became her Bill.
And so far as I was concerned, she did not fit my son.
That was until she surprised me, one day, in the kitchen. Bill was still at work, and I was running chores upstairs that had become suddenly more urgent when she arrived. So, like the prim mademoiselle she was in my eyes, Fleur floated through our back door, slipped into a chair, and made herself comfortable at my kitchen table. Then, much to my surprise, she produced a book.
"I am going to translate zis for Bill, to Eenglish. I will prefer… er, 'ow do you say it? Peace and quiet?"
"That sounds lovely dear. I'll just be upstairs if you need anything."
How dare she throw me out of my own kitchen?
It wasn't until later, when I returned, that I heard her, muttering in French. The language seemed to drip from her lips, delectable, beautiful… I stood in the doorway entranced.
"Vous êtes belles, mais vois êtes vides... On ne peut pas mourir pour vous."
I watched her hair, flowing down her shoulders like liquid gold, long fingers reverently stroking those thick, old pages as she read, and I felt wanting; an overweight, red-haired, middle aged woman leaning against her crooked doorframe, attacking this beautiful young woman who deigned to grace our home.
"That sounds beautiful, Fleur," I told her.
I wondered if anything startled that girl. She simply turned to me, as if she was used to people watching her silently, and smiled.
"Eet is my favourite, Mrs. Weasley. Le Petite Prince."
I nodded, trying to smile kindly. "What was it you just said?"
Her eyes appraised mine, and as if she read my thoughts, she translated for me.
"You are beautiful, but you are empty. No one could die for you."
I watched that depth of knowledge in her eyes, as she continued to read for me.
"To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think zat my rose looked just like you--ze rose zat belongs to me. But in 'erself alone she is more important zan all ze 'undreds of you other roses."
Fleur spoke those words from my heart as if she knew that I had thought them of her – she, the imposter, and my son, the rose. As if she knew I did not want her at my kitchen table; that I did not want her for a daughter-in-law.
That I did not think her worthy of my son.
She spoke those words, and held that look in her eyes without judgment. She recognised my hostility, and it did not faze her. She accepted it, because she loved my son. Because she loved my son, she accepted me.
"Eet is my most favourite story," she told me quietly. "Eet is beauty… Saint Exupéry, 'e is one 'oo can understand love."
I nodded. Of all the things I had planned to do today, this had not been one of them: to stand in my kitchen having lessons in French and in love… and yet all the same I felt as if I owed it to her, to listen, to learn. I did it for my son, for my Bill – her Bill – and for him and his sake, there was nothing else that I would rather have done. And, after an hour of intense discussion over love and two steaming floral mugs of hot chocolate ('I do not like ze coffee,' she had sniffed), Fleur did not seem quite so empty. She became, instead, a young woman sitting at my kitchen table, talking and smiling at me, and at the same time, she became someone who I accepted as part of my life.
Sometimes, in order to understand someone, you have to get to know them. Bill threw Fleur at us, like she was one of Charlie's infernal Quaffles. And really, she is a lovely girl.
She surprised us all, me the most, after Bill's accident. That she stayed, that she watched over him, and cared for him, and did not judge him for what he could not help… That she admired and adored him, above and beyond all else… It shouldn't have been so, but the surprising thing was that it turned out that she loved my son. My Bill loved her, and she loved him.
And that was all that mattered.
After all, no one will love my Bill as his mother does: but a son does not choose to love his mother: he just does.
He chooses whom he will fall in love with.
And if my son has chosen this girl, then I will love her like a daughter. I do not get to choose.
A/N: This is my second response to the May Quote Challenge on the Reviews Lounge Forum; yes, my second response - I had so many ideas for this challenge that I just had to write two! (I am also aware it is now June: this is irrelevant, because the challenge is an open one.)
Anyway, I hope you like it! Reviews are appreciated, and if you are interested in the challenge, or any other of our challenges, or just the community/forum and review revolution in general, I encourage you to go visit! Everyone is welcome.
So anyway, reviews are greatly appreciated, and thank you for reading.
P.S. For anyone who is interested, French Lessons now has a companion piece, dealing with Ginny and Fleur, called The French Inquisition. You can access the link on my author's profile!