The steady drum of rain on the roof was punctuated by occasional crashes of thunder and flashes of lightning. Bill rolled over in bed as he tried in vain to go back to sleep. He wasn't entirely sure what woke him; he suspected it was a crack of thunder.
It had been raining steadily for the past three days and he was so tired of it. Rain meant all of the Weasley siblings were stuck inside and that was never a good thing. Charlie had escaped; he was staying with a school friend over in Cornwall for a few weeks. Bill envied him a bit; he was working in the village several days a week so he'd turned down any invitations to visit his friends.
With all the rain, the twins had been playing pranks and generally causing mayhem. This left frayed tempers and often hurt feelings. The twins could sometimes be a bit cruel in their pranks and often targeted both their older brother, Percy, and their younger brother, Ron. They usually left their little sister, Ginny, alone, but yesterday they'd snuck into her room and stolen her favourite stuffed unicorn, causing lots of tears.
Climbing out of bed, Bill scanned the dark skies hoping for some sign of relief. In the darkness, there wasn't much. As long as he was up, he might as well go down to the kitchen for some hot chocolate. With that thought in mind, he pulled on his dressing gown and headed for the stairs.
As he passed his sister's room, he heard a whimper. Concerned, he tapped on the door.
"Ginny," he whispered as he pushed the door open. He found the little girl curled up in the corner of her bed clutching her stuffed unicorn. Tear tracks were visible on her face. Hurrying over to the bed, he sat down. "What's wrong, love?"
"The thunder," she whispered. "It's scary."
Lifting her into his lap, he automatically put his arms around her. She snuggled into him. "It's just noise. It can't hurt you."
She pulled away a little so she could look up into his face. "Are you sure?"
"Freddie was telling me scary stories about monsters hiding in the rain."
Mentally cursing his nine-year-old brother, Bill shook his head. "You know Freddie. He was just making things up. There are no monsters in the rain."
She looked up at him for a minute before nodding. "Okay. I just heard the noise and got scared."
"I was going to go get some hot chocolate. Do you want some?"
Ginny nodded eagerly. Bill lifted her out of bed and held her hand as they headed to the kitchen. She found the cocoa in the cupboard whilst he heated the milk over the stove. Soon they were each sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of cocoa filled with little marshmallows, Ginny's favourite way to drink it.
"Are you going back to Hogwarts soon?"
Bill nodded. He was going to be starting his sixth year this year while Charlie was starting his fourth. "Two more weeks."
Ginny pouted. "I don't like when you go away."
"I know, love, but I promise to write to you. Can you practice your writing and send me a letter, too?"
Her eyes lit up. "I can write my whole name now. Me and Mummy practiced it a lot."
"You can?" Bill grabbed a sheet of parchment from the counter and a quill. "Let me see."
Ginny carefully took the quill in her hand and in very crooked letters spelled out Ginny. When she was done, she looked up at her big brother. He didn't disappoint her. "Brilliant, Ginny! Well done."
She beamed under the praise of her favourite brother.
"Do you want to learn to spell Bill?"
She nodded eagerly. Bill carefully spelled out his name. Ginny looked it over. "That looks easy."
Taking back the quill she copied her brother's writing. Before long, she had properly written Bill.
"Excellent! Now you can write to me while I'm at school."
"But I can't write a lot of words," she worried.
"Don't worry, Mum can help you," he replied easily, "but now you can write my name on the outside."
"Tell me about Hogwarts," she entreated.
"Okay, let's go back to your room." Bill quickly washed up their cups before leading Ginny upstairs.
Grabbing the sheets and pillows from her bed, the pair created a fort and lay down on the floor. Ginny lay on her stomach with her head propped up on her hands. Bill lay on his side facing her. "Tell me about the castle."
Laughing, Bill started telling her tales of the enchanted castle. He told her about the Great Hall with its amazing ceiling, the creepy dungeons where he had Potions class, the moving staircases, and suits of armour. Before long, Ginny drifted off to sleep. Tucking her unicorn under her arm, he put his head down on the pillow and fell asleep on his sister's floor.
Bill moved quietly through his darkened flat. Anger fuelled his movements as he strode towards the room where his sister was staying. He couldn't believe his family. First, with four older brothers at Hogwarts, none of them had noticed their sister acting strangely as she'd fallen deeper and deeper under the spell of an enchanted diary. Secondly, it had been Ron's best mate, Harry Potter, who'd actually saved Ginny. Now, his mother was acting as if it never happened.
They hadn't even told him before they arrived exactly what had transpired during Ginny's first awful year at Hogwarts. His mother was determined to ignore what had happened by babying Ginny, which hadn't worked that well when she was a baby much less now. His mother had forbidden him from talking to Ginny about it, declaring 'She's fine now. She doesn't need any reminders of what happened.'
Bill snorted at the thought. Of course she didn't need reminders; he could see the tell-tale signs of nightmares that his mother was so assiduously ignoring. He knocked softly on the door. "Ginny."
It took a minute, but Ginny silently opened her door. While she was dressed for bed, he could tell he hadn't woken her.
"Put your dressing gown on, we're going for a ride."
Her interest perked up and she hurried to comply. She followed him to the balcony off the living room. Her eyes lit up when he waved his wand and a magic carpet hovered just off the floor.
The siblings were soon soaring over the Egyptian desert. The moon was full and lit up the sands beneath them. The pyramids were growing larger as they approached. Bill wrapped his arms around his sister, worried about how thin she was. She leaned back against him.
"I have something for you," Bill said as he pulled a box from the pocket of his jacket.
With a slightly shaking hand, Ginny took the long black box and opened it. She gasped when she opened it. There was a beautiful bracelet with black beads. There were jet black beads interspersed with tiger's eye beads on a silver chain.
Bill lifted it out of the box and fastened it around her wrist. "This is a special bracelet. The jet beads protect against negative energies while the tiger's eye beads protect against possession. I've put an Unbreakable Charm on it as well."
Tears dripped down her face as she gazed down at her wrist. After a minute she looked up with a beautiful smile. "Thank you, Bill."
"You are very welcome, love."
"I feel…so stupid." Ginny took a deep breath and told her brother about her horrible year. She talked about her new friend Tom and how he always listened to her. "After Christmas, I realized that something was wrong. I was losing great blocks of time and couldn't remember anything. More people were getting Petrified and people were blaming Harry. I tried to get rid of the diary, but Harry found it."
Turning slightly, she looked pleadingly up at Bill. "I couldn't let it hurt him."
"Of course not," he said soothingly. "What happened next?"
"I snuck into his room and stole it back."
"What?" Bill laughed. "That sounds like you."
She managed a grin. "I felt badly, but I did it anyhow." The grin slipped off her face. "The rest of the spring was worse. I kept losing more time. I tried to say something to Ron and Harry, but…Percy came and chased me away. Later that day, I opened the diary. I couldn't help it. I didn't want to, but it kept calling to me."
"He probably put a compulsion charm on it so you would keep using it," Bill said.
She nodded. "I remember writing on the wall and going down into the Chamber. I don't know why I remember that time, but I do. When we arrived in the Chamber, he came out of the diary. He was silvery and shadowy, not like a ghost, but not like a person.
"He was so mean. He laughed at me and told me how stupid I'd been to listen to him. He told me I was going to die and because of me Harry was going to die."
Bill held his sister as she dissolved into tears. He shed some of his own as he held her. It wasn't fair that someone so young would be so tormented. Eventually, she relaxed and laid her head on his chest.
"I think you were very brave," Bill said quietly. "Most people couldn't fight off Voldemort for a whole year. Don't forget, he wanted to kill those kids. You didn't."
"H-harry said that too," Ginny admitted as she wiped her face. "I don't feel brave. He was really brave. He killed the Basilisk with a sword."
"I think you are both brave," Bill said definitively.
It was still dark when the siblings returned to Bill's flat. He accompanied her to her room. One look at her face, he Summoned some extra blankets and with a few quick spells he'd created a pyramid-shaped fort. Ginny giggled as he laid several pillows on the floor.
She lay down on one pillow and Bill lay down on another. "Tell me more about Ancient Egypt. You said this afternoon the hieroglyphics were telling a story about Ra. Can you tell me about it?"
Ginny drifted off to sleep as Bill told her stories. He dropped a kiss on top of her head as he watched over her.
Bill dashed into Grimmauld Place and pulled off his cloak. It had just started snowing and he brushed the snowflakes out of his hair.
He'd been helping with the Order of the Phoenix since the summer. He wasn't thrilled about being back in England, but his growing relationship with Fleur and being able to see his family were making it better. It was late. He'd been visiting his father at the hospital. He was doing much better, but his wounds still hadn't closed.
Bill found a plate of food for him in the kitchen. After heating it up and eating, he headed back upstairs. He heard voices coming from the drawing room. Curious, he peeked inside and found Harry, Ginny, and Sirius sitting around talking. Ginny's face lit up. "Bill, come in!"
Sirius smiled. "Come on in, Bill. We're just sitting here chatting."
The kids both had cups of hot chocolate in front of them whilst Sirius had a glass of Firewhiskey. "Do you want a glass?"
Bill nodded and Sirius poured him a glass. Sirius resumed his seat while Bill gave Ginny a hug and sat down next to his sister. Looking at her face, he thought she'd been having nightmares again. This house was a bit too creepy. He'd found all three of them awake at odd hours of the night, but no one else seemed to notice.
"How's dad?" Ginny asked.
"He's doing well," Bill said. "He was glad that everyone visited today."
Harry had risen and was looking out the window. "It's snowing."
"Really?" Ginny joined him. "I wish we could go outside."
Sirius' eyes sparkled. "Get your cloaks and whatever you want to wear outside."
Harry and Ginny almost sprinted out of the room as they gathered their cloaks, hats, scarf, and gloves. Bill and Sirius both grabbed their cloaks from the hall closet. It didn't take long for everyone to return to the drawing room.
As the others watched, Sirius pushed in a carving on the wall. Silently, the farthest bookcase slid aside revealing a staircase. Harry gasped. "What is that?"
"My Dad's secret way out of the house," Sirius explained as he led the way down the steps. Looking at Harry he said, "It will only open for me or you. If anyone else pushed on the carving, nothing would happen."
At the end of the stairs, Sirius led the way along a short corridor and up another set of stairs. He pushed open the door to reveal a small garden. "My grandfather actually bought this little plot of land just so he'd have a little retreat. In his time, he maintained a small flower garden. My father thought it was beneath him to work on plants so he had Kreacher tend to it. I've been working on it a bit since I've been back."
He glanced over at Harry. "I get sick of being cooped up in the house all the time."
Harry grinned. "I think it's brilliant."
Ginny spun around with her arms extended. "I love snow!"
"Especially if we don't have to shovel any snow," Harry laughed as he looked up into the sky.
As they gazed upwards, a snowball hit Harry on the back. When he turned another hit him in the face. Ginny laughed and pulled him behind the bench. The two started making snowballs as they dodged those thrown by the two older wizards.
Harry managed to nail Sirius in the face, but he was quickly hit again himself. He saw Sirius and Bill both using magic to stockpile snowballs. "That's cheating!"
The younger two were quickly buried in a pile of snow. Ginny squealed and held her arms over her head. Harry quickly followed suit. Once the snow stopped falling, Harry stood up laughing. He pulled his glasses off and tried to clean them, but he was too wet.
Bill laughingly dried them for him. "Sorry, couldn't resist."
"Can we build a snowman?" Ginny asked.
"I've always wanted to do that," Harry said excitedly.
"Of course," Sirius said.
Together Harry and Ginny rolled up enough snow for the bottom of the snowman. Soon they had a snowman complete with conjured coal for eyes and mouth and a carrot for a nose. Sirius transformed into Padfoot and ran around in the snow. Harry had fun flinging snow at the running dog.
Reluctantly the very cold quartet made their way back inside. Padfoot shook the snow out of his fur, showering everyone with snow before laughingly transforming. He cast warming spells on the younger pair while Bill did the same for himself. Removing their wet outerwear, Sirius called Kreacher to come and retrieve them.
Making their way to the kitchen, Bill and Sirius prepared hot chocolate for all of them.
"Do you like peppermint?" Sirius asked.
"What did you have in mind?" Bill asked suspiciously.
Sirius held up a bottle of white alcohol. "A little bit of crème de menthe. Just a bit."
Looking over at his younger sister, Bill had to admit he'd had alcohol by the time he was fourteen. "Okay, a little."
Nodding, Sirius added a little to each of the younger pair's cup and a healthier amount for himself and Bill.
"This is really good," Ginny said.
Bill had to smile. His sister looked very pretty with her pink cheeks and sparkling brown eyes. Looking around, he noticed that Harry seemed to be admiring her as well. It would be nice if Harry was finally starting to notice Ginny. She would appreciate it. While he knew his mother was still determined to see Ginny as a little girl and some of his brothers followed suit, Bill could see the wonderful young woman she was becoming.
"Isn't this amazing?!" Ginny called out as she stood on the back patio.
The skies were darkening and the wind was blowing through the trees. There was a large pine tree at the back of their holiday house that was swaying dramatically in the steadily increasing winds. The scents of the white jasmine vines and pink frangipani were wafting over them. The air felt heavier as the storm approached.
Harry watched her with a smile on his face. "I think you're amazing."
She laughed as she twirled around in the wind. Blowing him a kiss, she continued to enjoy the build up to the storm. At first they'd thought the tropical storm might destroy their holiday, but the locals assured them that while they might have some rain and flooding it didn't look too bad.
"The rental agent asked if we'd be okay without electricity," Harry said with a laugh. "I told her we'd be fine. I stocked up on candles and cast a cooling charm on the refrigerator in case the power does go out."
Dropping into the chair next to him, Ginny smiled. "I think we'll be just fine. I have to admit, I wasn't sure about a holiday in Florida, but it's been great. I had no idea there were so many amusement parks in one small area. We could have spent a whole other week in Orlando. Victoire certainly loved the Magic Kingdom."
"I liked the roller coasters," Harry said, "but I think I like the beach better. I really like the fact that no one recognizes me here."
As the wind picked up even more, the couple moved inside. Harry cast some sticking charms to the patio furniture so it wouldn't blow away. Ginny brought the hanging orchids and wind chimes in as the agent asked them to.
Bill and Fleur were returning from shopping with Victoire. "It's crazy out there. One of the big bridges was closed and traffic was very busy."
Ginny smiled as she took her niece away from her sister-in-law. "Come with me. It's so nice outside."
Harry helped the other couple put the groceries away while Ginny was talking to four-year-old Victoire outside.
"Do you want the grouper?" Harry asked as he looked through the refrigerator. "We could try to make those rosemary potatoes with it."
Working together, they roasted the potatoes and prepared a summer salad before grilling the grouper on their indoor grill. As they sat down at the table, the skies opened up. Lightning lit up the sky as they shared their meal.
"I used to hate thunder storms," Ginny remarked as they washed the dishes and put them away. "Bill somehow always found me when I was the most scared. He would make me hot chocolate and then we would usually camp out. We would make a blanket fort and he would tell me stories."
Bill grinned at his sister. "I always enjoyed our little camping nights."
"What kind of stories?" Harry asked as he wrapped his arm around her shoulder.
"All sorts," she replied. "When I was little, I always wanted stories about Hogwarts. He would tell me about the castle or the professors." She blushed. "Sometimes he would tell me about the fabulous Boy Who Lived."
"Those were her favourite," Bill confided laughing. "She always wanted to know where you were and what you were doing."
"I think zat iz sweet," Fleur said.
The couples settled onto the two couches in the living room while Victoire went to sleep in the room she was sharing with her parents. The power flickered, but it didn't bother them. With a wave of his wand, Bill lit several candles.
"Bill was brilliant when we went to Egypt. Everyone else was tiptoeing around me, but Bill was the only one to actually talk to me. He took me out flying on a magic carpet," Ginny said with a smile as she fingered the bracelet she still wore.
Bill nodded fondly. "That was a great night. I felt so badly that I couldn't do more to help."
"I loved listening to the Egyptian myths," Ginny said. "Mum was so upset with you spoiling me."
Bill rolled his eyes. "Remember that night we played in the snow with Sirius?"
"That was the first time I had any alcohol. It was great."
"I was so worried that mum was going to come down and find us drinking," he laughed. "I still don't know how we didn't get caught."
Harry shook his head. "Merlin, I thought your mum was going to blow a gasket when she found us all camping in the drawing room the next morning."
"I still don't know why she was so upset. I was sleeping next to Bill and you were sleeping with Padfoot."
Harry shrugged. "I have no idea. That was definitely one of the first nights that I noticed you. You looked so beautiful that night."
"I think that's what had mum so upset," Bill laughed. "You know how she is. Always worried about how others will perceive our actions. I think she was worried what others would think about you sleeping in the same room as Harry."
"It's not like we were close to each other," Harry said. "I ended up sleeping against Padfoot."
"Ron and Hermione were so put out the next day. He must have complained for the next month that we should have woken him up," Ginny said with a touch of exasperation.
"I don't zink 'ermione would 'ave agreed to go outside."
"You're probably right," Harry admitted. "She was still quite a stickler for the rules back then."
"She's loosened up a lot," Ginny commented. "It's too bad they couldn't come with us. Ron would have loved the amusement parks."
Bill nodded. "He would have, but maybe next time. They didn't want to leave George and Angelina with her so close to her due date."
A loud crack of thunder shook the house before lightning lit up the room. Almost immediately the sound of Victoire's cry echoed through the house. Before either of her parents could get up, Ginny said, "No, let me get her."
Ginny hurried into the darkened bedroom and lit it with her wand. Victoire was standing in her cot with tears coming down her face. "Hello, beautiful."
Picking up the little girl, Ginny carried her into the other room.
"It's just noise," Ginny was reassuring her niece. "It can't hurt us."
Victoire looked around at her parents and her favourite uncle. "No hurt?"
"No hurt," they replied firmly.
Within a few minutes, Bill had pushed the couches back against the wall and his daughter's favourite music was playing. They danced and played while the storm raged outside. As Victoire started to fall asleep in her uncle's arms, Bill Summoned pillows and blankets from the bedrooms.
"A fort," Ginny said firmly. "We need a fort."
Obediently Bill created a fort from the sheets before setting up a sleeping area for each couple and a tiny bed for Victoire. They lay down on the living room floor.
"Aunt Ginny, tell me 'bout Unca Hawwy savin' you from the snake," Victoire said sleepily.
Harry turned on his side and propped himself up on one elbow with the other arm wrapped around his wife. Bill was in the same position with Fleur. Ginny snuggled into Harry's arms while holding her niece's hand. With a smile for her husband, she began a child friendly version of Harry rescuing her so many years ago. As she was drifting off to sleep, Ginny was glad she could share this with her niece. Bill had always made her feel so safe as a child. Harry had taken over that job when they were still in their teens, but now she could be the one to make Victoire feel safe.
This story was inspired by Tropical Storm Colin dumping rain down on my house last week. It is a collection of missing moments. I couldn't help but send Harry and Ginny on holiday to my state of Florida. I will admit a scene in Brennus' new story Gothic inspired my Egypt scene. Thanks to Arnel for her quick beta job!