That baby was his brother, Mordred.
Although he knew it was mean, Merlin thought his little brother looked more like a wrinkled prune than a person. And all Mordred did was cry, nurse, and soil nappies. Mordred wasn’t any fun at all, and the baby was exhausting their mother. In fact, Mum didn’t seem just tired, she appeared ill, with circles darkening under her eyes and her face pale as a ghost. And, last night, Merlin heard his mum whisper the word “depression” to his father; Merlin wasn’t stupid—he was seven years old and knew what the word meant. It meant Mordred was making their mum ill, which, in turn, made Merlin’s stomach ache with worry. Would she grow so sick she died, all because of this baby Merlin didn’t like anyway?
Trying to ignore his distress, Merlin settled on the sofa, tugged a blanket onto his lap, turned on the telly, and waited for his mum. A minute later, she trudged downstairs carrying Mordred, and laid him down in the Moses basket.
“Sweetheart, would you keep an eye on Mordred while I shower?” Mum asked. “I’ll be quick. He was up half the night and should stay asleep.”
The last thing Merlin wanted to do was sit alone in a room with Mordred, but Mum looked worse today than ever, with her eyes half closed and her complexion almost grey, so Merlin nodded his head as his mother shuffled back upstairs.
... middle of paper ...
...air. “I thought you’d approve. And there’s extra pizza for lunch and dinner.” His gaze shifted to Mum. “I wanted to make things easier for you, Hunith.”
Mum crossed the room and threw her arms around Dad. “Thank you, Balinor. You do so much for all of us.”
“That’s nonsense,” Dad said. “You, my dear, are the glue that binds this family.”
They exchanged loving glances, then kissed. Merlin made a gagging sound, but in truth, in always made him feel safe and content to see his parents expressing love for one another, though he might have appreciated less kissing.
As his parents embraced, Merlin turned his focus back to Mordred. “Well, little brother, I think we’ll have a fine Christmas. And next year, I’ll make sure you understand that pepperoni pizza is the best.”
While his mum and dad weren’t looking, Merlin bent down and dropped a soft kiss upon Mordred’s brow.
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