Mysterious Distance

A/N: For sick-atxxheart's Different Perspective Challenge at the HP Fanfiction Challenges Forum. Fleur and Bill and all the rest of them belong to JK Rowling. The title and lyrics belong to U2.

And little sister
I know that everything is not ok
But you're like honey on my tongue
True love never can be rent
But only true love can keep beauty innocent

I could never take a chance
Of losing love to find romance
In the mysterious distance between a man and a woman

But you can't be numb for love
The only pain is to feel nothing at all
How could I hurt when I'm holding you?

I don't want him to go.

There's no reason, no sense to the way I feel. No one really expects anything to happen. It's just a precaution, Professor Dumbledore being careful because he has to leave the school.

But I started shaking the minute Professor McGonagall's sleek silver cat Patronus brought the message, and I haven't stopped yet. Bill doesn't notice until after he has sent his own Patronus back to say he is on the way. (Our flat is a Muggle-owned; we can't connect to the Floo network, which is a nuisance at times like this.) Then he turns to say goodbye to me, and realises the state I am in.

He drops down beside me on the settee and pulls me into his arms.

"What on earth's the matter?" he asks, and it all comes spilling out – things I didn't even know I was feeling until I start to speak. How I don't want him to go, that I know something will happen, and can't he tell them he's sick or something, and someone else could go instead of him, I'll go instead of him, and please please please don't go…

And Bill shakes me gently and kisses me and says, "Whoa, slow down, love…" and I realise I'm speaking French, and he's probably understood less than half of what I said.

I swallow and gulp, and repeat, "I do not want you to go," in English this time, and he smiles and holds me close and kisses me and says he'll be fine and nothing will happen, no one expects anything to happen, they're just being careful, and he'll probably have the most boring evening ever. And, because I know he will not change his mind because he does not understand (how can I expect him to, when I do not understand myself?), and because I don't want him to worry about me, I gulp and swallow again, and force a smile and say I'm sorry, I'm being silly, of course you have to go, I'm sorry. And he kisses me hard, and smiles at me and stands up and Disapparates, and I am left on my own.

And I go to the kitchen to make tea, which I don't really want, but it is something to do, and eventually I stop shaking enough to make it without spilling boiling water everywhere, and I take it back to the living room and sit in the big armchair where Bill usually sits with me in his lap, and sip the tea and try not to think about the feeling that I'm never going to see Bill smile at me like that ever again.

When the tea is gone, I get up and shake myself and go into the bedroom. I will be ready to face whatever is coming. So I get out my wand and take great care in effacing the marks of my tears before reapplying my make up. I have my pride.

Then I sit in the living room and work at my embroidery with a concentration I have not given it for months, as if the shading on the hummingbird's wing where it changes from blue to green actually matters. But all the time, I am waiting, ready, and I do not jump at all when Bill's father's silver weasel Patronus appears in the room with the message.

And I stand, and fold up the embroidery carefully as if it matters, and Apparate to The Burrow as Arthur Weasley has told me to, so that I can go with him and Bill's mother through the specially opened Floo to Hogwarts. And a part of my mind is wondering whether Molly Weasley would have bothered to contact me at all if Arthur hadn't insisted, and another part is annoyed that whoever it was at Hogwarts told them that Bill was hurt, but did not think to inform me, who has as much – more – right to know. But mostly my mind is going over and over the words the weasel Patronus spoke: "Badly injured – Greyback – werewolf – unconscious – not transformed – injured – werewolf," and although I knew something would happen, I cannot, however hard I try, make it real that any of those words apply to my Bill.

And we Floo to an office at Hogwarts and I follow Bill's parents through the long corridors to the hospital wing. I want to run, but I do not know the way, so I have to match my pace to theirs and bring up the rear, once more as if they have more rights in Bill than I have. And we enter the long ward, and I am suddenly more frightened than I have ever been in my life. There is a boy I do not know asleep in a bed near the door and a crowd of people around a bed at the end, and Professor McGonagall comes forward and says something about being sorry to Bill's parents, but does not acknowledge me at all, and I am not angry, because I have just seen Bill over his mother's shoulder as she bends to kiss him, and…

I am never going to see Bill smile at me as he did earlier. His face… His face…

My brain freezes, and all I can do is stare, and I see that there are marks on his hands and his arms and his bare chest too, but his face…

The left side is one mass of blood, and I am sure I can see the white of teeth through a hole in his cheek. The right side is better, but scored and criss-crossed with bites. Somewhere deep in my mind I hear Monsieur LeCru saying: "Werewolf bites, even if the wolf is not transformed, may close, but they never heal fully. They are truly cursed wounds," and I have a fleeting ridiculous thought that I should run, go now before I am tied to a man who will look like this forever. And then I see the narrow gold bangle on Bill's wrist that I gave him at Christmas, and realise that this is not just a man, that it is Bill, my Bill, whom I love with my heart and soul and self, and that it truly does not matter what he looks like, and that whatever after-effects the bites may have we will deal with when they happen, and deal with together.

People are talking: Bill's father asks what will happen to him, Remus Lupin says he does not really know but that he doubts he will be full werewolf; someone says that Professor Dumbledore is dead. I do not really take any of it in; I am still looking at Bill.

His mother is crying, saying how handsome he was as a little boy, saying that he was going to be married, and suddenly I am furious. Molly Weasley still thinks I am an empty-headed shallow girl who is leading her boy on, stringing him along, that because I am beautiful I am incapable of caring, of feeling, of loving. She thinks that I will leave Bill because if how he looks, and I know it, but I pretend to misunderstand. I ask her if she thinks Bill will stop loving me because of the bites, and of course she knows that he will not, and stutters and stammers, unsure of what to say. I know exactly what to say. I tell her what she is thinking: that she is wanting, hoping that I will leave Bill because of this. I tell her it does not matter what he looks like, that the scars show that my husband (and he is my husband before he is her son now) is brave. And I snatch the ointment from her hand and push her away from Bill so that I – as is my right – can use it on his poor hurt face.

And I will not cry, I will not cry in front of all of them, in front of her, so I concentrate on Bill, on what I am doing, and I am aware that Molly is speaking again, saying something about her aunt and a tiara and how it will look nice with my hair, and I realise that this is some sort of peace offering on her side, and I say thank you because what else can I say? And then, quite suddenly, I am crying, and she is crying too, and we are hugging each other as if it is the most normal and natural thing in the world.

And there is more talking and dissecting what happened and something about Remus Lupin and that girl Tonks which I do not fully understand, and more talking and Professor McGonagall giving orders, but I really do not take any of it in. Not now. I can't think of anything but Bill now.

And then the Matron appears and orders everyone out, and says that one of us, but only one, can stay with Bill, and his mother looks at me and gives what looks like a tiny shrug and bends and kisses him and kisses me too, and then takes Arthur's arm and leaves with the others. And I curl myself in the chair beside the bed, and take Bill's hand – the one with the gold bangle on the wrist - in both of mine.

I will be there for him when he wakes.