Full Moon at Shell Cottage

Bill leans against the window, looking out at the garden and the cliffs and sea beyond. It is going to be a stormy night. The wind is rising, and there is a hint of thunder in the air. The moon has not yet risen, but it is already dark.

"Bill! Are you alright?" He sees the concern in his wife's eyes, and knowing only too well why it is there, cannot honestly answer that he is. "Come and sit wiz me," she urges. "Eet will be a couple of hours yet surely." But Bill doubts it will be that long. Already his scars are hurting and he is feeling the beginning of a wild restlessness inside himself that he hates but cannot control.

He sits with Fleur on the settee, holding her close while he still can, knowing that in a short while he will not be able to bear her touching him. Thunder crashes, and Bill jumps and cries out, pushing Fleur away from him as wild ferocity and pain flood through him in a huge wave. "Don't touch me, Fleur, please," he gasps, burying his face in his hands, beginning to shake. She pulls away from him abruptly, tears in her eyes. The worst thing about this for her is that she cannot hold Bill to comfort him.

Bill stands, and begins to prowl to and fro in the tiny room. Fleur watches him, but knows better than to go to him or even to say anything.

"It's – no good. I have – I have – to go out," chokes Bill. His voice is husky and the words halting. Speech is hard for him at these times.

Fleur stands and walks over to him, putting her hand gently on his arm, so gently that she hopes he will not pull away. He does not. "Be careful," she whispers through her tears. "Be safe." Bill nods, and for a moment their eyes meet. He sees the fierce love and protectiveness in hers; she sees pain and the wild lost look she hates in his. But behind it she sees Bill Weasley, the man she married. The man she loves.

He turns and leaves her without a backward glance. Outside, he is oblivious to the driving rain and the wind. He begins to run. After a long while, he trips and falls flat. He lies on the cliff top, digging his fingers into the grass and the earth beneath, trying to concentrate on those sensations rather than on the fear and pain inside; trying to concentrate on who he is, to remember that this – this – is not reality. Another eternity later, and he manages to sit up, shivering and gasping, the burning of his scars almost beyond endurance. His hearing is more acute than usual, and above the thunder and the rain and the crashing of the waves, he hears a distant howl. He shudders.

Bill knows he cannot stay here and he cannot run any further. He struggles to his feet, crying out in pain as he does so. He barely knows where he is, but he turns instinctively in the direction of the cottage and begins to walk.

Fleur is alone in the living room of Shell Cottage. There is a piece of embroidery on her lap, but she is not working on it. Concentrating on anything is impossible. She knows that Bill would prefer it if she went to bed on these nights, but sleep would never come. Besides, she needs to be here for Bill when he returns, whether he wants her or not when he does. She sighs, and resists the urge to check the time again.

Fleur goes into the kitchen and finds a bottle of red wine. She pours it into a pan and adds orange juice, apple liqueur and the mixture of spices her Veela grandmother taught her. Using her wand, she lights a fire under the pan. She leaves it to heat and goes upstairs. From the bedroom window, she can see the garden, the cliffs beyond and the deep blue expanse of the sea. The storm has not abated, and she jumps as lightning flashes and thunder roars. She does not realise that she is crying until she tastes the salt on her lips.

Fleur wishes someone was here with her. Waiting alone is so hard. But Bill is adamant that no one else should know how bad Full Moons are for him. The only people who knew – Remus and Tonks – are dead. Not for the first time, Fleur wonders just how Tonks coped with marriage to a true werewolf. This is more than difficult enough.

Fleur has begged very hard for Bill to confide in Charlie. The two brothers are so close, even now when they see each other rarely. Charlie would understand and not judge or jump to conclusions. He might even be able to be here sometimes for the Full Moon. Even if he could not, simply having someone else who knew would somehow ease the burden. But no, Bill – who will talk to Charlie about most things – will not even consider talking to him about this.

Fleur chokes back her tears and goes back downstairs. She puts out the flames under the mulled wine, and leaves it for the flavours to infuse. Although she knows that they are, she checks the front and back doors again to make sure they are unlocked. She goes back into the living room and lays a fire of driftwood and pinecones in the grate. She cannot help but check the time again. Bill has been gone over three hours. She picks up her discarded stitching and sinks back onto the settee.

Bill is on the cliff top just beyond the garden. The thunder and lightning have stopped, but the wind and rain have not yet abated. He sits at the cliff edge looking out to sea. The physical pain is very bad this time, and the part of his brain that is still Bill Weasley wants to get it under control before he returns to Fleur. She bears so much on these nights, Bill does not want her to have to see him crying in pain too. He concentrates on watching the waves and on his breathing, trying to focus away from the pain. Gradually, it diminishes to more manageable proportions, and Bill pulls himself upright. He staggers through the garden and in the back door of the cottage.

Fleur is there at the door from the hall to the kitchen almost at once. Bill sees the mingled fear and relief in her eyes; the tracks of tears on her cheeks; the way she bites her lips to prevent herself from crying out, and how she holds onto the door frame to stop herself from running into his arms. She is so beautiful, Bill almost cannot stand to look at her. He wants to hold her and let her comfort him, but knows he could not bear her touch, might even hurt her.

Fleur fights to keep her voice low and steady. "Come and get warm. I will light ze fire." Bill follows her through to the living room and drops onto the hearthrug as she lights the driftwood fire with a flick of her wand. She leaves the room and comes back with his cloak, putting it gently round his shoulders. He is still shaking, still in pain, but the warmth and her warm presence help a little. She goes to the kitchen and returns with an earthenware mug of the mulled wine. She kneels beside him and gives it to him, and their hands touch briefly. "Careful, it is 'ot," she murmurs. Bill wraps both his hands around the mug and drinks slowly. Fleur is still beside him, but makes no attempt to touch him or to say anything. Bill finishes the wine and puts the cup down. Tentatively, he reaches out a hand to his wife. She takes it gently in one of hers, tracing the scars on the back with her thumb.

They sit like that for what seems like a very long time, and Fleur feels some of the tension in Bill's hand gradually diminish. It is so hard not to wrap him in her arms and hold him, but she knows that he could not take that yet. Eventually, Bill sighs and lies down, curled up in front of the fire, his hand still in Fleur's. His eyes remain open, the pupils dilated, but Fleur sees his whole body relax a little. Carefully, she reaches out her free hand and rubs his shoulders, crooning words of comfort in a mixture of French and English. Finally, Bill sleeps.

When he wakes, it is morning. The fire has died, and sunlight fills the little room. Fleur is asleep beside him on the hearthrug, her hand still in his. Bill smoothes her hair back from her face, and chokes back a sob as he sees the dark shadows under her eyes, the marks of tears on her cheeks.

Fleur wakes, and looks into his eyes and he is once more entirely Bill Weasley, the man she married. The man she loves.

Hand in hand, they go into the garden. The birds are singing, and the air is already warm. It is going to be a beautiful day.