This fic is for all of those, who reassure me that I am not the only person "too old" for fanfiction who writes it! Particularly for my friends, Cassandra, Christopher, Suzanne, Steph and Sara. You are the wind beneath my wings.
Please read the author's note at the end. It is important.
The burial is over, and everyone but the immediate family has left for The Burrow. George is kneeling on the grave, his hands dug into the loose earth, his face streaked with tears and mud. Molly kneels beside him, her arms around him. Fleur doubts if George even realises that she is there. Near the head of the grave, Arthur is standing with Percy, talking to him in a low voice. Percy looks as if he has been Stunned. Charlie is a little further back, his arms around Ginny, who has her face buried in the front of his dress robes. Ron, Hermione and Harry stand together at the foot of the grave. Ron is holding Hermione's hand, and his face is rigid with the effort of not crying. There are tears on Hermione's face. Harry, standing a little apart from the other two, is white-faced and silent.
Fleur feels Bill move beside her, and his grip on her hand tightens. Fleur looks up into his face, and realises that he is about to break down and he will not – cannot – here, in front of his family. She frees her hand gently from his and goes to Harry.
"We are going," she says quietly. "We weell see you at Ze Burrow een a leetle while."
Harry glances at Bill's face, and nods, understanding.
Fleur goes back to Bill and takes his hand again, Apparating the pair of them to the cliff top by Shell Cottage, just outside the protective wards hastily erected when the call to go to Hogwarts came. (Only a week ago. It feels like so much longer.)
Fleur pulls out her wand and takes down the wards, and Bill crosses the boundary at once, covering the ground in long strides. But he does not make it to the cottage. By the time that Fleur has put back the wards and followed him, he has fallen face down on the grass, his body shaking with sobs. Fleur kneels beside him and pulls him to her so that his face is buried in her lap. She strokes his hair and rubs his back. There is nothing to say. Bill has cried before, in her arms at night when no one else could see or hear, but not like this. Since Fred died, he has been the strong one, looking after the family, dealing with the practical issues, coping when the others could not. Right now, he is just a man who has lost his brother.
It is a long time before Bill's shoulders stop shaking and his sobs quieten. He lies for a while with his face still in Fleur's lap, and she murmurs to him in a mixture of French and English, continuing to stroke his hair. Then he reaches up blindly for her face, pulling her down to him, his mouth seeking hers, kissing her hard and deep and long. His hands are working, pulling back her robes, reaching under her blouse and skirt, pulling her against him. Somehow, their clothes are scattered, and he is on top of her, inside her, still kissing her, and holding her so tightly that he is hurting her and she could not resist him if she wanted to. He cries out, and her body arches against his, and she sobs as they roll apart from each other to lie on their backs on the grass.
Fleur tastes blood on her lips. The sky arches blue and clear above them. It is a beautiful day.
After a while, Fleur sits up and begins to dress, wincing slightly as she realises that there are bruises on her arms and inner thighs. Bill rolls over too, and pulls his clothes on. He will not look at her.
Eventually: "I'm sorry," he says, his voice breaking, still avoiding her eyes.
"Non," she says firmly, crawling over to him and taking his face in her hands, tilting his chin up so that he has to look at her. "No, Bill. Eet ees alright."
"No," she says again. She smoothes his hair back and wipes the tears on his cheeks with her fingers. "You 'ave nossing to say sorry for chéri. Eet ees alright, I 'ave told you." She kisses him gently, and he chokes and pulls her to him once more.
Fleur frees herself from his grasp, and stands up, extending her hand to Bill, and pulling him to his feet. She gets out her wand, and performs the charms that will neaten and clean their clothing, make them look as they should for the funeral of a brother, a brother-in-law. She uses her wand to tidy her own hair, but reaches up and strokes Bill's back from his face with her hands, using her fingers to comb it and pull it back into its accustomed ponytail. She leaves the tearstains on his face and lets his eyes remain red. It will do his family no harm at all, she thinks slightly savagely, to know that he cries for Fred too.
"Thank you." Bill's voice cracks as he says it, and Fleur is not quite sure what he is thanking her for. It does not matter. She takes his hand and tugs him gently to get him moving. Hand-in-hand they walk across the grass to the cliff top to Apparate to The Burrow.
Author's note - please read before flaming me!
I am not justifying sexual violence in any shape or form. The fact that Bill and Fleur are married makes no difference to the fact that he more or less rapes her. While being badly upset may make Bill's behaviour understandable to some extent, it in no way justifies it. Would I have been as willing to forgive as Fleur was if I was in her position? Almost certainly not!