A/N: I've just finished rereading the Fablehaven series, and I almost forgot just how much I loved it. Honestly though, one thing that I could always use more of though is sibling feels. We got some from Kendra and Seth, but honestly I've always been much more interested in Dale and Warren's relationship. Especially since Dale is so much older than Warren, and we never really get to see sibling relationships like that in books or shows, at least not while the siblings are still kids. So I'm writing this to explore that beautiful relationship of theirs.
Twelve year old Dale kicked his legs and frowned as he looked around the hospital waiting room. He could count on one hand the number of times that he had been outside of Fablehaven. He never felt completely comfortable out here in the normal world. Everything was too loud, there were way too many people, and it all moved too fast for him. Dale just wanted to get back to the reserve, but they couldn't leave without his mom, and she wasn't going anywhere until she finished giving birth to Dale's new baby brother.
Dale glanced over to his dad, who hadn't said a word since they got here. Dale wanted to talk, even if just to have something to do, but he felt too uncomfortable to start up a conversation himself. He wished that Lena was waiting out here with them, she always had ideas on how to avoid boredom, but she was with his mom, and had been basically all day.
Dale looked up at the clock on the wall and glared at it in annoyance. His parents had told him a few years ago about where babies came from, but neither of them had mentioned just how long the actual labor took. Mom was just having a baby, he really didn't understand why that should take nearly nine hours.
Dale sighed in irritation, and his dad looked down at him. "Feeling a bit bored, are you?"
"A little." Dale admitted. "What's taking so long?"
"Believe it or not, you took even longer." Dad smirked, and the boy pouted. It wasn't his fault that babies took forever to be born. "You just have to be patient. It shouldn't be much longer."
"But we've been here forever." Dale complained. "Why did we have to come here anyways? Why couldn't Mom have the baby back at Fablehaven like she did with me?"
Dad's smile became slightly strained. "There have been some complications, and me and your mother agreed that it would be best if she had the baby at a hospital, just in case."
"Complications?" Dale frowned in slight concern. "Is there something wrong with the baby? Are he and mom going to be okay?"
Dad smiled and put a hand on Dale's shoulder. "They'll be just fine. We just thought it would be better to be safe than sorry." He didn't sound worried, but Dale couldn't help but think that something was seriously wrong. He wished that he could see his mom already, not just because he was bored, but because he wanted to know that she and the baby were okay.
Dad seemed to notice that Dale wasn't comforted by his words, so he took a different approach. "Are you excited to be a big brother?"
"I guess so," Dale shrugged. Growing up he had basically been the only kid living at Fablehaven. Sometimes the Sorensons would come over, but while Stan or Ruth might stay for the summer, their kids usually just stayed for a couple of days at a time. Stan and Ruth both knew about Fablehaven, and Dale knew that Lena was considering them to be the new caretakers, but their kids didn't know about the magical stuff at all.
Dale enjoyed playing with the other kids whenever they came around, but he always felt like he was walking on eggshells around them. Stan and Ruth wanted their children to know about Fablehaven, but they wanted them to learn about it for themselves. They'd been trying for years now, and if anything Scott, Carl, and Sophie were all even further from learning the truth than they had ever been. Dale always had to be extremely careful to not say anything about Fablehaven when the Sorenson kids were around, and it was really stressful.
Dale loved Fablehaven, and it would be nice to share that love with another kid, but there wasn't a guarantee that he would be able to. "What if my brother doesn't learn about magic, like Scott, Carl, and Sophie?"
Dad frowned slightly. "Is that what you've been worried about this whole time?" Dale had actually been worried about a lot of things. He had never been a big brother before. This was all really new for him. "We'll make sure your brother knows about Fablehaven. We'll teach him about it from a young age, just like we did with you, remember?" Dale didn't really remember learning about Fablehaven. It was just something that he had always known. That must've been because he had learned it from such an early age. "Don't worry so much. Your brother will grow up knowing about Fablehaven, and you'll be able to have adventures with him."
That was something that Dale had always wanted, but he didn't think it would be as easy as his dad made it out to be. "But I'm so much older than him. By the time he'll be big enough to go on adventures, I'll be too busy doing work around Fablehaven." Dale had been helping his dad with groundskeeping duties at Fablehaven, and he had already been promised that as he got older he would be able to have more responsibilities. Dale suspected that in the next five years he would be helping out nearly as much as his dad did. How was he supposed to be friends with his brother, or even have any relationship with him at all, when there was such a big age difference between between?
"I'm sure you'll figure things out." Dad said, and that really wasn't an answer. It was just a way to stall this conversation for a few years. Dale was about to call his dad out about it when a nurse came out looking for the 'Burgess''. Dad smiled at him encouragingly and the two of them got to their feet and followed the nurse.
Dale stayed close to his father's side as they went to the room where his mom and baby brother (hopefully) were. When they got to the room the first thing that Dale noticed was that his mom was crying, which alarmed him. He couldn't remember the last time he had seen her cry. The second thing that he noticed was the little bundle of blankets in his mom's arms. His new baby brother.
Dad immediately went to Mom's side and hugged her, which looked a little awkward because she was lying on a bed and had a baby in her arms. It seemed that Dad was too emotional to care, because he was crying too. Dale lingered in the doorway, feeling uncertain about what he should do. Lena took notice of him and soon came to his side.
"Do you want to come meet Warren?" Lena asked kindly.
"Warren?" Dale tested the name of his new baby brother. It felt weird to say. "I don't know." It looked to Dale like his mom and dad had the baby covered. He didn't want to crowd the little thing.
"Come on," Lena encouraged gently as she took Dale's hand and lead him closer to the bed. "Your mother needs to rest anyways." Dale didn't think that his mom agreed, but when Lena tried to take the baby, Mom didn't resist too much.
"Just sit right there." Lena gestured to a chair right next to the bed. Dale sat down, and after Lena was sure that he was situated, she gently put Warren in his arms. Dale felt like he couldn't breathe. Warren just felt so fragile in his arms.
"Why's he so small?" Dale looked at Lena.
"He's a baby." Dad reminded him. Dale glared at his dad in annoyance.
"Well, yeah, but even for a baby he feels so small." Dale wasn't an expert on babies and he didn't really know just how big or small they were supposed to be, but he just couldn't believe that all babies were as little and weak as Warren was.
"He is a little small." Lena admitted. "But he'll get bigger."
"If you say so." Dale looked back at Warren and frowned. "What's his full name?" Dale knew that his parents had come up with Warren's first and middle name months ago, and they had refused to even give him a hint. Dale had never really cared about nicknames before, but his parents' secrecy had just made him really curious.
Mom smiled proudly. "Warren Patton Burgess."
"Patton?" Dad looked at mom and Lena in shock. "I thought you wanted to name him after your dad?"
"I did," Mom said. "But when we saw just how strong Warren was, no other name but Patton felt right."
"Strong?" Dale looked his brother over, trying to find a sign of this so called strength that Mom said he had. "He's just a baby. How is he strong?"
The tears welled up in Mom's eyes all over again, and Dale wondered what he had said wrong. "We...we almost lost Warren."
"Lost him?" Dale tightened his grip on Warren. He had only just met his brother, he barely even knew him at all, but the thought that Warren almost didn't make it scared Dale more than anything else. "What happened?"
"There were just some complications." Lena said, same as Dad did. Dale didn't know if he wanted to know what 'complications' meant, or if he would rather it be a mystery. Dale shuddered when he remembered that dad told him that they had come to the hospital just in case. If they hadn't come here, Warren might not even be alive right now. Dale felt really bad for complaining. If a little bit of boredom was what he had to go through to have a healthy little brother, then it was a price that Dale was more than happy to pay.
Dale held Warren close as he watched him sleep. He looked so peaceful. If Dale hadn't been told about what could have happened, he wouldn't have ever guessed. Warren looked perfectly fine now, but Dale couldn't shake the paranoid feeling that if he took his eyes off of Warren for just a second that something would happen to him.
Dale hadn't known how he felt about being a big brother, but now it was a job that he took really seriously. Warren may be strong, but he was still just a little baby. As his big brother, it was Dale's job to watch out for Warren, and it was a job that Darren took really seriously.
Dale may just be a kid, but he would do everything in his power to keep Warren safe. Nothing was going to happen to Warren, not if Dale had anything to do about it.